Human rights activists and supporters took part in a sit-in at the Casablanca Appeals Court to rally behind a journalist, who’s being tried over an accusation of sexual assault in Morocco.
The trial of editor-in-chief of the Akhbar Al Yaoun newspaper, Soulaimane Raissouni was postponed to March 2 at a hearing on Tuesday. Raissouni has been in detention since May 22 last year pending a resolution to his case.
“Today, this demonstration comes on the occasion of the first hearing of Soulaimane Raissouni after 9 months of investigation which is very long for his family. We thought that during the past 9 months, Soulaimane will be tried in a state of freedom’’, 32-year old Kholoud Mokhtari, wife of the journalist said.
Soulaimane Raissouni’s trial follows sexual assault charges filed by an LGBT rights activist. The 48-year old has consistently denied the charges.
Mid-May last year, an LGBT community activist, who is only identified as ‘’A.M’’ by AFP claimed that the journalist ‘’jumped on him’’, ‘’taking advantage of his weakness and moral health to satisfy his sexual desires’’. According to ‘’A.M’’, the alleged assault dated back to the end of 2018, when the journalist’s wife had offered to collaborate on a film about the LGBT community.
On the evening of Soulaimane Raissouni’s arrest, Director of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, tweeted: ‘’We express our full solidarity with Moroccan journalist Souleiman Raissouni, editor-in-chief of the Arabic-language newspaper Akhbar el Yaoum, a victim of a smear campaign relayed by online media close to the intelligence services’’.
Other civil society organizations were in support of the accused. “The culture of rape has a bright future ahead of it. Solidarity with the accused or how to question the plaintiff’s word”, said Ibtissam “Betty” Lachgar, co-founder of the Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties.