Human Rights Watch Tuesday expressed dismay at the conviction and sentencing of 36 human rights activists in Morocco on charges of holding an illegal demonstration last December, said Panafrican News Agency (PANA).
The Rabat Court of First Instance handed down the guilty verdict Wednesday and sentenced each defendant to three months in prison and a fine of 3000 dirhams (about $300).
The defendants are expected to appeal and are provisionally at liberty, said PANA.
The men and women who were convicted are mostly members of the independent Moroccan Association for Human Rights (Association marocaine des droits de l'Homme, AMDH) it added.
On December 9, the eve of International Human Rights Day, they had attempted to stage a peaceful sit-in near the gates of parliament in downtown Rabat to demand that those responsible for torture and "disappearances" in Morocco be brought to justice.
According to the agency, the police broke up the gathering just as it got under way, pushing and beating the demonstrators as they hustled them into police wagons and placed them under arrest. Forty-two men and women spent the night in detention and thirty-six were later charged with staging an unauthorized gathering.
Three journalists were also arrested and released the same day, after materials were confiscated from them – Albawaba.com
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