Morocco: Authorities must ensure Omar Radi’s fair trial rights

A Moroccan court is today expected to hold the final appeal hearing of journalist and human rights activist Omar Radi, who was sentenced by a lower court to six years in jail on charges of rape and espionage following a grossly unfair trial, with similar flaws replicated on appeal, as documented by the organization in this detailed summary. Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Amna Guellali said:

“The Moroccan government has subjected Omar Radi to years of harassment, 19 months of detention in solitary confinement and an espionage prosecution over his journalistic work. Omar’s trial last year was marred with grave violations of due process from start to finish.  The same arbitrary denial of defense rights remained on appeal.

“All espionage convictions against Omar Radi should be quashed as these are politically motivated convictions that violate his right to freedom of expression. Only a fair trial can ensure justice for both Omar and the complainant making allegations of rape against him.  

“The Moroccan courts must ensure that fair trial violations, such as those documented by Amnesty International in Omar Radi’s case, are immediately rectified and cease to take place within the Moroccan justice system.”

Background

On 19 July 2021, the Casablanca Court of First Instance convicted Omar Radi of espionage and rape and sentenced him to six years in prison. His appeal trial started on November 2021 at the Appeals Court in Casablanca, and he has been in pretrial detention and in solitary confinement since July 2020.

Throughout Omar Radi’s first instance and appeal trial, Amnesty International has documented several breaches of fair trial guarantees, including limited access to his lawyers, denying the defence team the right to cross examine prosecution witnesses, excluding defence witnesses and refusal to admit pieces of evidence showing inconsistencies in the complainant’s statement.

Before his arrest Omar Radi had been repeatedly harassed by the Moroccan authorities because of his journalistic work criticizing human rights violations and exposing corruption. In June 2020, an Amnesty International report revealed that Omar Radi was targeted by the Moroccan authorities using spyware produced by NSO Group, an Israeli company.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Amnesty International.

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