"It is unjust, unjust, unjust", said Enaama Asfari to the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara. Asfari was sentenced on Monday to two months imprisonment for an alleged harassment committed at a time when he was, in fact, being tortured by the police.
Published 01 May 2008
The human rights activist Enaama Asfari went through a tough trial yesterday. The judge sentenced him to two months imprisonment, despite disparitiesbetween evidence given and eye witness statements. Asfari showed obvious signs of having been tortured during police interrogation.
Asfari was arrested on April 13th at 10:30 in the evening, after an alleged altercation with a Moroccan on the street.
Five plain clothed policemen, who had been following him for days, handcuffed him, blindfolded him and drove him to an unknown destination. There he was tied to a tree and subjected to four hours of torture. He was finally forced to sign a false statement.
Police statements and an account given by their eye witness gives a very different version of events. They claim Asfari was arrested four hours later - at 2:45 AM - after Asfari had allegedly been seen driving under the influence of alcohol, had beaten up a Moroccan and displayed threatening behaviour while brandishing a knife. The police deny he has been subjected to torture.
He has therefore been accused of harassment at a time when he was actually tied to a tree.
Asfari bears proof on his body that he was tortured. And the torture could only possibly have taken place in the time period between the actual time of arrest at 10.30 PM and the time of he signed the document at 2.45.
Judge deaf to Asfari's testimony
Amnesty International demands an investigation into allegations of torture. However, during the trial on Monday, the Judge wouldn't listen to Asfari's testimony regarding his assertion of torture during interrogation.
"It is unfair, unfair, unfair", said Asfari to the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara on Monday evening.
"When I gave my testimony in court about all that had occurred, the Judge replied that he didn't want to hear about it. He would only accept the statement I signed that night, under torture" , said Asfari.
Asfari showed the court his battered legs. His lawyers, brought in from France, pointed out all the paradoxes in the statements from the police, witnesses and the alleged statement of the victim, without this being taken into consideration.
The alleged victim says Asfari was arrested at 1:45 in the morning, one hour earlier than that stated by the police.
The prosecutor also failed to provide evidence to support the claims that there had even been a knife present at the scene, or that Asfari had in fact been driving while under the influence of alcohol.
He has now been sentenced to 2 months imprisonment, and a fine of 3.000 Moroccan Dirham.
During the Support Committee's phone conversation with Asfari we could hear considerable background noise. He has been kept in the same prison for over a week now , incarcerated together with more than 70 other prisoners all ordinary criminals. He said that it was difficult to sleep, and hopes for an immediate transfer to another prison.
Asfari, who is a lawyer, is also President of the human rights organisation CORELSO. He has been a resident of France for several years. His wife is a French citizen.
Asfari will appeal his sentence next Tuesday.