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Imprisoned journalist beaten by prison guard and two inmates

(RSF/IFEX) - The following is an RSF letter to Moroccan Justice Minister Mohamed Bouzoubaâ:

Mr. Mohamed Bouzoubaâ
Minister of Justice
Place El Mamounia
Rabat, Morocco

Paris, 1 November 2005

Dear Minister,

Reporters Without Borders would like to draw your attention to the plight of Abderrahmane El Badraoui, the former editor of the weekly Al-Moulahid, who has been in prison in Morocco since January 2002.

Mr. Badraoui was transferred on 5 October to Mohammedia prison, located 150 km from his home. Although a prisoner of conscience, he has since then been in a 40-square-metre cell with 41 inmates being held for ordinary crimes.

He was physically attacked on 26 October by a guard, Mustafa Dindla, who had taken to subjecting him to extortion. After complaining about the guard's behaviour to the prison's deputy governor, Mr. Badraoui was attacked by the guard and two inmates, who hit him with keys and then gave him a beating.

He was taken to the prison infirmary but did not receive any treatment.

Two inspectors carried out an investigation on behalf of the prison management and the guard was suspended. This decision is encouraging but we remind you that it is your responsibility to guarantee Mr. Badraoui's safety.

Mr. Badraoui was arrested after publishing reports in late 2001 about a financial scandal in Kénitra and alleged embezzlement by senior police officers in Témara. He was originally accused in 1998 of fraudulently posing as a journalist. The case was dropped after he produced official documents proving that he was a journalist. Despite being acquitted by the Rabat appeal court, he was again tried on the same charge in January 2002 and was given a five-year prison sentence that was reduced on appeal to four years.

Mr. Badraoui has been tried twice on the same charges and his imprisonment is therefore the result of a judicial error. For this reason, Reporters Without Borders reiterates its request for his immediate and unconditional release.

We trust you will give this matter your careful consideration.

Sincerely,

Robert Ménard
Secretary-General

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