First Published: 2007-01-20

Morocco acquits five ex-Guantanamo inmates

Two of five acquitted by Moroccan court will not be freed because they are accused in another terrorism case.


Middle East Online

The group's trial adjourned until February 23, 2007

RABAT - A Moroccan court acquitted five former Guantanamo Bay prisoners in a terrorism case Friday, a judicial source said.

Two of the five will not be freed because they are accused in another terrorism case, the source said.

The United States handed the five former inmates of the notorious naval base prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Morocco on August 1, 2004, and their trial opened December 6, 2004 after several delays.

The five, prosecuted for belonging to a criminal group and failing to denounce crimes threatening the state's security, are Abdallah Tabarak, 50, Mohamed Ouzar, 26, Redouane Chekkouri, 33, Mohamed Mazouz, 32, and Brahim Benchekroun, 26.

Mazouz and Benchekroun are still in detention due to their implication in another terrorism case, along with 20 other Islamists, including two Belgians of Moroccan origin, suspected of links to Al-Qaeda.

The group's trial, which opened at the court in Sale near Rabat on July 14, 2006, was adjourned until February 23, 2007.

Three other Moroccan ex-Guantanamo inmates were sentenced last November to three- to five-year jail terms for belonging to a criminal gang.

The trial of a ninth former Guantanamo prisoner, Mohamed Ben Moujane, handed over by the United States last October, opened January 12 in Sale and was adjourned to February 2.

The Moroccan foreign minister has said authorities are working on the return of the last four Moroccan nationals still being held in Guantanamo.

The US government established the Guantanamo facility in the months after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks to interrogate prisoners rounded up in countries such as Afghanistan as part of the US-led "war on terror".


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