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After unfair trial, blogger sentenced to two years in prison and fine for article about king

(ANHRI/IFEX) - ANHRI has condemned the severe sentence that blogger Mohamed Erraji received on 9 September 2008 from a court in Agadir of two years in prison and a fine of 5,000 Moroccan dirhams (approx. US$625) for "disparagement of the king". The case stems from an article entitled "The King Encourages the Dependency of his People" that Erraji published on his blog on 3 September 2008.

Erraji's trial is a perfect illustration of the types of trials people who express their opinion freely receive. At the request of the prosecution, and despite the opposition of the court, the trial was conducted in a single session, behind closed doors and without lawyers or representatives of the defence. Furthermore, the incriminating article defamed neither the King nor any other authority.

The Hespress website ( http://hespress.com ) published the article on 3 September. Erraji was questioned on 4 and 5 September. Then, on 8 September, he was sentenced to spend two years in prison and to pay a fine. All of this occurred without allowing him the right to a defence counsel. This is a crystal clear example of the absence of justice and freedom of expression in Morocco, says ANHRI.

This severe sentence against the blogger confirms Morocco's return to a prior era of misery, when voices were muzzled, prosecutions were unjust, and torture also existed. Now all that is missing are the forced disappearances for Morocco to return to its dark years.

ANHRI added, "The Moroccan king should know that no matter how severe any journalistic critique may be, it is not necessarily meant to vilify anyone. Hence, we demand that he pardon and release Mohamed Erraji."

To express your support for Mohamed Erraji, visit: http://www.helperraji.com/

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