French TV Film Crew Held in Morocco
The Moroccan army was holding on Sunday a French television crew which was filming a program about Morocco's notorious former prison camp at Tazmamart, network executives said.
Three three-man crew from the state-run France 3 network was detained by soldiers at the university in Errachidia, about 300 kilometers (180 miles) southeast of Rabat, France 3 managing editor Herve Brusini told AFP.
The three were Jean-Marc Pitt, cameraman Joseph Thual and Michel Bernasconi, he said.
The crew arrived in Morocco on Thursday accompanying a group of surviving Tazmamart inmates on a pilgrimage to the former prison camp organized by the French group Forum for Truth and Justice.
"The crew had authorization from the information ministry and the Moroccan center for cinematography and they presented all of these documents to the military authorities at Tazmamart," said Brusini.
He said filming of the visit to the former prison camp went ahead without incident, but later the crew's vehicle was stopped and its tires slashed and the crew was ordered to hand over its videotapes.
Brusini said the network had protested to Moroccan authorities over the detention of its staff.
"There is a lot at stake, just as much for the record as for Morocco's present with the eyes of the defenders of human rights focusing on the first images of Tazmamart," he added.
Tazmamart gained notoriety as the camp where 58 soldiers were held for their role in two failed coups d'etat against the late King Hassan II in July 1971 and a year later.
Most of the young officers sentenced to between three and five years in prison either served 18 years or died in the atrocious conditions.
Of all of Morocco's secret detention centers, Tazmamart is said to have witnessed the most deaths. Without knowing the final toll, at least 32 people are known to have perished there.
The prison, 60 kilometers (35 miles) from Errachidia, has become a symbol of the darkest years in Morocco's history -- PARIS (AFP)
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