Thousands march in Morocco condemning sentences of protesters


Thousands of Morocans protesting the sentences handed down to 53 people stemming from a 2016 demonstration on July 8, 2018.. (Photo: AP)

Thousands of Moroccans marched in the country's largest city of Casablanca Sunday to condemn the verdicts of 53 protesters over unrest in 2016.

In late June, a Moroccan court sentenced Nasser Zefzafi, figurehead of the protest movement, along with three other leaders, to imprisonment for 20 years.

Another 49 people were sentenced to jail in terms of 15 years, along with fines, by the Casablanca Court.

The severest charge among the convicts was undermining public order and threatening national unity.

The participants in the march strongly denounced the sentences, demanding freedom for the prisoners.

Leftist parties and families of the convicts led the march, which raised portraits of the prisoners and slogans criticizing the sentences.

This march comes after a number of smaller protests and sit-ins staged in several cities, including Rabat, Casablanca and Hoceima, the epicenter of the north eastern protest movement, which has

rocked the country for months starting from late 2016.

The protest movement was sparked in October 2016, when fish vendor Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death after climbing into a rubbish lorry to retrieve his swordfish confiscated by police.

Demanding justice for Fikri evolved into a grassroots movement, requiring greater government investment and more jobs for several months.