Published 17 March 2017
The proceedings against the Gdeim Izik group commenced on the 13th of March at 10:20 am.
The defence started the proceedings although they claimed that the proceedings could not commence until the reports from the medical examinations were presented as they were crucial for the further assessment of evidence. The evidence against the group consists of confessions retrieved through torture and is therefore illegal evidence, as set forward in Article 15 of the Convention Against Torture. The presiding judge ruled to continue the procedures without the reports.
Witnesses who had been permitted into the case file were present in the courtroom, but were not questioned. There were several eyewitnesses, as well as policemen who had summarized the confessions and documents around the group's arrest.
The procedures continued with lodging the evidence in the case. The evidence case was transferred from the Military Court of Rabat to the Court of Appeal in Rabat for a new evaluation after a referral by the Court de Cassation. The following pieces of evidence where also presented: 19 telephones, 3 axes, and 4 knives/machetes and one CD. A discussion took place as to whether the CD should be submitted as evidence. The defence claimed that the CD was not part of the list of evidences submitted to the defence, and that the CD was not part of the confiscated evidence, and was made after the dismantlement of the camp and the accused crimes.
The court decided that the contents of the CD should be portrayed in front on the court, but did not admit the CD as part of the evidence in the case postponing this decision to a later time.
The content was a video of Gdeim Izik camp, where one could see people throwing stones and carrying knives. The video was cut, and edited with French text. The video portrays the camp as a violent resistant camp, and not as a peaceful protest camp consisting of families. The video is not yet admitted into evidence.
Mohammed Ayoubi, who at the previous rounds had been hospitalized, was present in the courtroom. Ayoubi´s case was admitted to the group case. Defence attorney Mr. Mohamed Fadel Leili stood beside Mohammed Ayoubi and acted as translator, where Ayoubi only speak Hassania.
Ayoubi has both kidney failure and heart problems. Ayoubi was the first defendant to be
questioned. He had difficulty walking and has difficulty with speaking, and with lifting his arms after the torture he was subjected to. Ayoubi explained that. "I came to find my bread but the Moroccans only gave me beatings", where he stated that he has not killed anyone; that he is only a poor man and not a politician. He stated to be a victim of the authorities that had destroyed his trust, and hurt him and beaten him.
He testified to how he had been awoken at 6:30 am, November 8th 2010, when police
overpowered him in his tent, and raped him. He was held in a vehicle and taken to an unknown location. He was later taken to hospital because he lost so much blood, after being brutally raped. Ayoubi testified to how he had been tortured at the military headquarter, kept handcuffed and blindfolded, forced to drink urine and eat feces, while he was naked on the floor covered in his own feces. He testified to how he, blindfolded and with his hands cuffed, whilst military personnel stood on his chest and punched his kidneys, had signed confessions, where the guards took his hand and placed his fingerprint on papers which he neither saw, or were read to him.
Ayoubi urged that his signature was a zero, on not a fingerprint as was used to signed the documentations. In Ayoubi's declarations he confessed, (that according to his testimony were obtained under torture), to running over several policemen with his car. Ayoubi said that he could not have run over a policeman with his car, when all he had was a donkey and its impossible to drive a donkey. When asked about his stay in the Gdeim Izik camp he stated to have lived in the camp for a month, and that he went because others went and he needed food. When asked who gave him this food he stated that it was Saharawi people, and that everybody shared what little they have, and that he is eternally grateful to the people who gave him food. When asked who provided the finance for the food Ayoubi answered that he doesnt know and does not care; I ate the bread that people gave to me. He stated that Morocco gave me nothing; only hurt me.
He stated that he remained in the camp because the people in the camp helped him, the Moroccan government only gave me suffering and pain, he stated. The prosecution urged Ayoubi to answer who gave him food, and Ayoubi answered I am almost dead. Why did you let me out? I have nothing to live for. You should just put me back in, because I already live in the biggest prison in the world.
The defence claimed that the Civil Party was not allowed to ask questions, where they were not a formal part in the proceedings, and that they did not have the right to ask the accused any questions. The defence also argued, when the civil party asked questions related to the film, that the film was not part of the evidence file. The preceding judge refrained from ruling upon the matter.
The civil party could ask questions. Protests broke out in the courtroom from the group Gdeim Izik when one of the lawyers for the civil party asked how Ayoubi could be raped in the tent, when he had just testified that his tent was so small that his legs were outside, and why he had not resisted against being raped. These questions were asked while several of the Moroccan lawyers from the civil party laughed. The accused in the glass-cage shouted that the Moroccans lawyers was laughing about the sufferance of the Saharawi people.
The court commenced with interrogating Mohamed Bani. Bani started his testimony by stating that he had been tortured, where the scars are still visible. He stated that he is a Saharawi from Western Sahara, and he demanded to be trailed in front of a court that Polisario Front and Morocco agreed upon. He stated that he does not recognize this Moroccan courthouse. He stated that he had visited the camp Gdeim Izik twice to visit his mother, his sister and his brother.
Bani stated that his family had joined the camp because they were looking for jobs, and they had social and political demands. Mohamed Bani testified to how he in the morning of November 8th, at 6:30 am, had been abducted when he was on his way to El Aaiún to drive his two sons to school. He explained that had tried to leave the camp on November 7th, but had been stopped by the police, who directed him back to the camps. On the way home in the morning on November 8th; Bani said that he stopped the car when his car window was smashed. He then saw out the window, and was hit by a stone in the head and fainted. He woke up later, handcuffed and surrounded by military personnel. He was taken to an unknown location, whilst constantly kicked and beaten.
He was taken to the police station and tortured together with five others he did not know. He was later transported from El Aaiún to Salé by plane, where he was captured along with three others from the group Gdeim Izik. He urged that he was constantly being beaten and spanked by the military forces. He was forced to sign documents blindfolded, where fingerprints were taken by force. He signed documents which he said that he had neither seen nor knew the content of. The prosecution asked questions about movements in the camp on the night of November 7th, where Bani stated that everything was peaceful and normal. The prosecution asked him if, according to the declarations, he could tell about the people terrorizing the inhabitants of the camp, and stopping them from leaving, on November 7th. Bani claimed that this declaration is falsified; that he had never said it, and that he never witnessed anything like that. He was asked if he knew some of the defendants before the event, and if he had received orders to attack the public officials from Bourial. Bani stated that he didnt know any of the fellow detainees before they met in prison.
At 8:40 pm, the procedures were adjourned to the following day.
Outside the courtroom, a Saharawi journalist was arrested during the demonstrations. He was tortured in Rabat, and has been transported by plane to Laayoune, where he remains in custody. His name is Mohammed Daddy, is 24 years old and is a journalist in RASD TV.