Occupied Western Sahara: 10 young people sentenced to years in jail for the July 19 demonstration in El Ayun
|Equipe Media Sahara Media Team 09/09/2019|
On September 4, 2019, a trial has been held in El Ayun against ten young people from the occupied territories, nine Saharawis and one Moroccan.
The courthouse was cordoned off from the adjacent streets by the police, which did not let the public approach. Mohamed Dadach, president of CODAPSO, as well as Laila Lili and Hadi Matou, were not allowed to access. These two human rights activists were able to access the courtroom in the afternoon.
The room was full of members of the intelligence service, DGST (General Directorate for Territorial Surveillance). The families of the prisoners, and Saharawi human rights activists were also in the room
No international observers attended.
The defendants were arrested after the demonstrations of joy over the Algerian victory in the Africa Cup of Nations. The repression of that demonstration was very harsh. A young woman was killed run over by a car of the occupation forces. We have provided videos to the public opinion in which beatings and police gunfire can be seen, as well as water cannon trucks dispersing water under pressure.
The charges were as follows:
Demeaning the police.
Degrading property with the use of force.
The prosecutor challenged the defendants to demonstrate that the police did not respect civilized and legal practices in their intervention to disperse El Ayun protests on July 19.
And the defence did not flinch, when it had evidence – videos of Équipe Média and others – that clearly showed the repression of that July 19. On the contrary, one of the lawyers praised the King and the police “thanks to whom we live in an area of peace and stability.” The defence was carried out by two Saharawi and two Moroccan lawyers. Their only argument was to point out minor technicalities such as: the police didn’t notify the families of the detainees of their arrest, and the case was brought to the lawyers only 72 hours later, that is, on the 22nd of July.
They asked that, given the specificity of the defendants (young students), the opportunity to make political hay out of the case would not be given to some parties.
The judge asked the detainees if they wanted to apologize to the General Directorate of National Security. The defendants replied that they did not commit any crime or violation and therefore there wasn’t any need to apologize.
The defendants have denied all charges and claim they are innocent.
They have been condemned to:
Two and a half years for four of the defendants.
A year and a half for three of them.
One year for the other three.
After the verdict, the police assaulted the prisoners before handcuffing them to send them to the Black Jail. The reaction of one of the prisoners was to throw a bottle of water at the judge and the prosecutor.
The four minors arrested has been granted interim release.
EM, El Ayun, occupied Western Sahara
September 4, 2019