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21.05.2019 Africa

Trial opens in Moroccan teen gang rape case

By AFP
Moroccan teenager Khadija Okkarou showed tattoos that she said were carved into her body by her attackers in a video posted online.  By STRINGER (AFP/File)
MAY 21, 2019 AFRICA
Moroccan teenager Khadija Okkarou showed tattoos that she said were carved into her body by her attackers in a video posted online. By STRINGER (AFP/File)

The trial of 12 men accused of kidnapping and gang raping a Moroccan teenager in her village last August opened Tuesday in the central town of Beni Mellal and was adjourned at the request of both sides.

Lawyer Ibrahim Hachane, who said his client, the plaintiff, was not in court, told AFP that the case was adjourned to June 25.

The accused, aged between 19 and 29, are being tried on several charges including human trafficking, rape, kidnapping and forming an organised gang.

Conviction on a trafficking charge can carry a 30-year prison sentence.

Another suspect is to be tried separately behind closed doors on June 11 as he was a minor at the time of the alleged offences, Hachane said.

He said the accused had confessed to police but most of them had retracted before a magistrate.

In a video posted online, Khadija Okkarou said members of a "dangerous gang" had kidnapped and held her prisoner for two months, raping and torturing her.

She showed horrific scars allegedly from cigarette burns and tattoos carved into parts of her body.

The case has stirred outrage in Morocco, where an official report has found that more than 90 percent of Moroccan victims of violence had failed to file a complaint.

Rape victims in Morocco are often subject to a double trauma as its conservative Muslim society blames them for their ordeal.

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