A Moroccan court sentenced 13 Sudanese and Chadian migrants to three years in prison for storming the border fence of the Spanish-controlled city of Melilla last June, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights said in a statement yesterday.
On 24 June, an attempt by about a thousand migrants to storm Melilla, which is under Spanish control, led to the death of 23. Moroccan authorities said the migrants used violence against security forces.
“The Second Chamber of the Nador Court of Appeal on Monday raised the prison sentence against 13 migrants (2 from Chad and 11 Sudanese) from two and a half years (a preliminary sentence) to 3 years,” the association said.
It added that the prison sentences against the migrants came on charges of “facilitating the exit of people from Morocco, entering the country secretly, threatening public officials and using violence … and possession of weapons.”
The association called the sentences “harsh”.
This judgment is final unless an appeal is submitted to the Court of Cassation.
There was no immediate comment from the Moroccan authorities on the verdicts.
It is noteworthy that human rights organizations criticized the way the Moroccan and Spanish authorities dealt with migrants and demanded that the United Nations investigate the incident.
The northernmost city of Melilla is under the administration of Spain. Rabat considers it an “occupied loophole” and demands that Madrid negotiate its future.