Moroccan authorities charge 11 people with involuntary manslaughter following death of fishmonger
Moroccans carry the Berber flag at a protest in Al Hoceima on October 30, 2016. (AFP/File)
The fishmonger, Mouhcine Fikri, was killed on Friday when a garbage compactor he had climbed into started operating. Fikri was seeking to stop police from destroying 500 kilograms of swordfish that they had confiscated from him and had thrown into the truck.
Police said he had not been allowed to catch swordfish at this time of the year.
The authorities launched a probe into his death reportedly when the news of his death spread, prompting protests in several cities, including the capital, Rabat.
Eleven people, including officials with the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior and the fisheries department, were charged with involuntary manslaughter and forgery of public documents in Fikri's case.
The probe into the incident found that the truck driver had been given an order by a rubbish collection worker to start the crusher while the fisherman was in the compression body. Prosecutors said there was "no order to assault the victim by any party."
Witnesses, however, said a security officer ordered the truck driver to turn the power on, quoting him as saying "Crush the hell out of him," as Fikri was inside.
The investigation into Fikri's death was ordered by King Mohammed VI, who sent the interior minister to offer condolences to his family.
People blame authorities for Fikri's death and have been taking to the streets almost every day since Friday. The anti-government demonstrations are said to be the biggest in Morocco since 2011, when uprisings swept Arab dictatorships in the Middle East and North Africa, including Morocco.
King Mohamed managed to defuse the protests back then by transferring some of his power to the elected government that already existed in the country.
The Moroccan Association of Human Rights warned of a "possible repeat" of the uprising in the ethnically Berber region of Rif, where its locals believe they are marginalized more than the rest of the country.
Morocco, a country with high unemployment and poverty rates, has been ruled by monarchy for 350 years.