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Gdeim Izik prisoners: Amnesty International calls for fair trial

APS - 10 March 2017

LONDON- International human rights organization, Amnesty International calls for a "fair trial" for the Sahrawi political prisoners of Gdeim Izik, held arbitrary by the Moroccan occupation authorities.

The trial of 24 Sahrawis, to take place on 13 March in a civilian court, "is an opportunity to redress the numerous violations that tainted their fundamentally flawed military trial in 2013," said the AI in a statement.

The non-governmental organization called on the Moroccan authorities to ensure the defendants' right to a "fair trial" during the proceedings.  

"This includes respect for the presumption of innocence, effective investigations into allegations of torture or other ill-treatment in custody, and exclusion of any evidence obtained under duress," said the AI.

The NGO recalled the circumstances of the arrest of these defendants, including human rights and political activists, who were among "many Sahrawis arrested by Moroccan security forces during the forcible dispersal" on 8 November 2010 of a peaceful protest camp in Gdeim Izik near Al-Ayun in occupied Western Sahara.

Amnesty International stated "the excessive use of force by the Moroccan security forces in dispersing the protest camp and conducting arrests."

The NGO recalled that it "has on several occasions called on the Moroccan authorities to investigate human rights violations, which took place during and following the camp dispersal on 8 November 2010, and to ensure that those detained in the context of these incidents are not tortured or otherwise ill-treated."

The AI also opposed the trial of civilians before military courts.

Twenty-one of the 24 defendants were sentenced in 2013 by the military tribunal to heavy prison terms and are still in detention, said the AI.