Prison chief sacked after Zefzafi complains of torture in Moroccan prison

Zefzafi was convicted on charges of threatening state security last year
Zefzafi complains of torture in Moroccan prison, prison chief sacked
A picture taken with a mobile phone shows Moroccan activist Nasser Zefzafi gesturing during an interview with AFP in the northern city of Al-Hoceima on April 28, 2017. – Broadcasting passionate speeches online in the local Tarifit dialect from his home or the street, the unemployed 39-year-old has become the face of the new movement demanding economic inclusion for the Rif. Six months after the grisly death of a fishmonger in a garbage truck in north Morocco’s neglected Rif region, calls for justice have evolved into a grassroots movement demanding jobs and hospitals. (Photo by Hicham RAFIH / AFP) / TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY HERVE BAR

Morocco’s penitentiary administration Friday sacked a prison director after Nasser Zefzafi, the detained leader of a protest movement, complained of being “tortured” and “raped” in jail.

Nasser Zefzafi — who earlier this year lost an appeal against a 20-year prison term — said in a taped message that he “suffered the worst forms of torture” following his arrest in June 2017.

In the message from jail shared widely on social media this week, Zefzafi said he was “beaten up… raped with a stick… forced to undress”.

His father, Ahmed Zefzafi told AFP the audiotape was authentic.

On Thursday the penitentiary administration said it had opened an “administrative investigation” into the details on the audiotape.

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And on Friday it announced the sacking of the director of the Fez prison where Zefzafi is detained.

Zefzafi was convicted on charges of threatening state security in June last year, along with three other members of the Hirak protest movement which rocked Morocco in 2016 and 2017.

Their sentences were upheld in April by a court of appeal in Casablanca. 

In December last year, Amnesty International said the trial of Hirak members exposed “serious flaws” with some confessing under torture.

The protests took hold in the country’s marginalised Rif region in October 2016.

The social unrest was sparked by the death of a fisherman and escalated into a wave of demonstrations demanding more development in the neglected region and railing against corruption and unemployment.

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Authorities accused the activists of having separatist aims.

Zefzafi, who is now 40, emerged as the face of the movement as a result of his rallying speeches, accusing authorities of corruption.

In August he and five other activists issued a statement accusing authorities of torturing them during investigations.

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