Moroccan court convicts Islamist leader
A Moroccan anti-terrorism court has sentenced a Moroccan-born Belgian to life in prison for leading a terrorist network. In addition to being accused of leading an Islamic militant group, Abdelkader Belliraj, 50, was charged with committing six murders in Belgium, illegally smuggling arms and threatening state security.
Belliraj denied all the charges, repeatedly saying during the trial, “I never brought weapons into Morocco and deny making any attempts to overthrow the regime.”
During the trial, Belliraj’s lawyer, Mohammad Ziane, argued Belliraj visited militant groups on behalf of Belgium’s intelligence services. “We cannot argue with court's decision but it was only the first stage in this trial and we still have to go to the appeal court,” Ziane said after the verdict.
“What we expect is that the court will be more fair, take their conditions into consideration and base its verdict on concrete and proven facts,” he added. Morocco has imprisoned over 1,000 suspected terrorists since 2003.