Association of Families & Friends of Victims of Gdeim Izik Camp Informs UNSG of Latest Developments of Gdeim Izik Trial

The Association of the Families and Friends of Victims of Gdeim Izik Camp sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to inform him of the latest developments of Gdeim Izik trial.


The trial was referred by the Military Court of Rabat to the Court of Appeals of salé, the letter said, adding that this deferral "was an opportunity to make our voices heard and to fully assert our rights."


However, the source added, "we were astonished by the maneuvers of the defense to drop our right to civil suit."


"Our suit does not seek financial compensation, but the establishment of the truth and the application of the conditions of a fair trial," the source pointed out.


"It is noteworthy that we did not enjoy such a right before the military court. We consider that in conformity with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Moroccan constitution and the Criminal Procedure Code, it is our right to enjoy this right," the letter said.


"Defendants have repeatedly refused to answer our questions, put through our lawyers concerning the crimes and acts of murder and mutilation perpetrated against our relatives," the source added, noting that "this refusal proves their responsibility in the acts for which they are being prosecuted.»


The letter noted "how some lawyers of the defendants have tried to confer a political nature to this trial and have claimed that the defendants are political prisoners," adding that "defendants rejected to answer before the court the questions regarding the crimes that they are accused of, and made, instead, political answers unrelated to the charges, in order to gain a political status."


"This status is not the object of the case as the defendants are not being prosecuted for their opinions or political positions," the letter noted, adding that "as noted in the indictment, they are accused of acts of violence against our sons causing premeditated murder, mutilation of their bodies and complicity in these crimes."


"Much to our surprise and disappointment, some lawyers of the defendants released a meaningless statement about the course of the trial, which we consider an attempt to influence the judiciary and to play the role of an observer of the trial instead of a lawyer of a party involved in the case," the association said.


"This is a bid to infringe upon our rights and to settle their political accounts with the Moroccan State through this case. We do not accept this and we consider it a serious violation of the right to a fair trial and an action disrespectful to the memory of our relatives," the source went on.


"While defendants allege that they have been tortured, the declarations of most of them before the investigative judge took place in the presence of their lawyers and were recorded in the minutes, which do not mention torture at all. Moreover, no traces of torture have been found by the investigative judge nor their lawyers," the association underlined, adding that "this makes their allegations an attempt to misuse the Moroccan ratification of the Convention against Torture and to nullify the minutes of the judicial police."


"It should be noted that the opinion of the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) regarding the case of Mr. Naama Asfari was erroneous for many reasons. Indeed, the person concerned has not exhausted the domestic remedies. The case is still before a Moroccan court and the defendant himself has requested the court, which is considering this case, to conduct a medical expertise, and the court responded positively. We are still waiting for the findings of this expertise. We wonder why the CAT took its decision based upon allegations and in violation of Article 22 of the Convention against Torture," it added.


"Through to this letter to Your Excellency, we do not seek your intervention in the trial nor in the Moroccan justice system, before which the matter is being considered. We confirm that we fully trust the court, a confidence shared by the defendants themselves. We also believe in the independence of the judiciary," the association pointed out.


Gdeim Izik events, which took place in Laayoune on 8 November 2010, took the lives of 11 people, who were members of the security forces, "gendarmerie royale" and civil defense, despite the peaceful nature of their intervention to dismantle the Gdeim Izik camp, the association said.


"While there were no civilian victim, our relatives lost their lives in dramatic circumstances, showing the heinous character of the perpetrators of the crime," it added.


"We feel that we are the victims of a double injustice, first because of the loss of our children in this tragedy, and second because the international community has not assumed its responsibility before the mothers, fathers, wives and children who have lost their beloved ones before the eyes of the world, without any significant action taken by the international community, despite the fact that the right that was mainly violated is the right to life," the source said.


The families and friends of victims of Gdeim Izik Camp requested a meeting with the UN Chief to tell him about their suffering as indirect victims of these events, to show him the tapes recorded during the unrest and to transmit to him the medical expertise of the defendants, conducted following their repetitive allegations about torture and forced confessions.


"Mr. Christopher Ross, your special envoy, has already met with us and has committed himself to follow up on the case and its developments. Unfortunately, he has not met his commitments. We also wrote a letter to the former Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency M. Ban Ki-moon, but in vain," the source added.