7 new suspects brought before Morocco judge in slain hikers case

Flowers, candles and photos in memory of Louisa and Maren are left at the Town Hall Square in Copenhagen, on December 28, 2018. (Norway OUT /AFP)
Updated 03 January 2019
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7 new suspects brought before Morocco judge in slain hikers case

  • Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland were found dead at an isolated hiking spot south of Marrakesh on December 17
  • The two women were beheaded, authorities have said.

RABAT: A Morocco prosecutor on Thursday brought seven new suspects including a Spanish-Swiss man before a Rabat anti-terror judge in connection with the murder of two Scandinavian women in the Atlas Mountains.
The prosecution asked that the suspects be investigated for “forming a gang to prepare and carry out terrorist acts, premeditated assistance to perpetrators of terrorist acts and training people to join a terrorist organization,” Rabat’s attorney general said.
The prosecutor called on the judge to place the suspects in pre-trial detention.
Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland were found dead at an isolated hiking spot south of Marrakesh on December 17.
The two women were beheaded, authorities have said.
Fifteen people, including the four main suspects, were brought before the judge on Sunday over their alleged links to the double homicide, labelled a “terrorist” act by Rabat.
The Spanish-Swiss man in Thursday’s group had been living in Morocco and was detained in Marrakesh over alleged links to some of the suspects.
He subscribed to “extremist ideology,” according to Morocco’s central office for judicial investigations.
The four main suspects were also arrested in Marrakesh and belonged to a cell inspired by Daesh ideology, Morocco’s counter-terror chief Abdelhak Khiam told AFP.
None of the four had contact with Daesh members in Syria or Iraq, he said.
The head of the suspected cell is 25-year-old street vendor Abdessamad Ejjoud, according to investigators.
He was identified in a video filmed a week before the double-murder, in which the four main suspects pledged allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, according to authorities.
The killings have shaken Norway, Denmark and Morocco. Another video circulated on social networks allegedly showed the murder of one of the tourists.
Morocco, which relies heavily on tourism income, suffered an extremist attack in 2011, when a bomb blast at a cafe in Marrakesh’s famed Jamaa El Fna Square killed 17 people, mostly European tourists.
An attack in the North African state’s financial capital Casablanca killed 33 people in 2003.


Tripoli ceasefire remains steadfast despite recent clashes: UN Libya envoy

Updated 54 min 17 sec ago
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Tripoli ceasefire remains steadfast despite recent clashes: UN Libya envoy

  • Fighting broke out this week between rival armed groups in the south of the capital

UNITED NATIONS: A cease-fire in Tripoli remains steadfast despite heavy recent clashes, UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salamé told the Security Council on Friday.

Fighting broke out this week between rival armed groups in the south of the capital, breaching a shaky ceasefire brokered by the UN in September.

In a comprehensive bbriefing, Salamé said the UN mission in libya was cooperating with the Libyan Reconciliation Government to transfer control of prisons to the authority of the state, but armed groups are assuming responsibility for law enforcement rather than official Libyan bodies.
He also said new divisions emerge in Libya every day that should be dealt with.
Salamé said the country can not succeed without a united national leadership, calling on Libyan parties to cooperate constructively to approve and pass the UN backed constitution. Libya has been split between rival parliaments, one in tripoli and one in Benghazi, since a civil war erupted during the downfall of former ruler Muammar Qaddafi.
The UN envoy said “we need additional effort to establish a stable and prosperous economic system in Libya,” adding that the Libyan currency has gained stability, inflation has decreased and progress has been achieved in resolving the liquidity crisis.
He said the UN mission stressed the importance of allowing aid to civilians in Libya without hindrance, noting that all Libyans suffer from violations, violence and difficult humanitarian conditions.
“Without international support, the saboteurs will succeed in undermining the political process in Libya,” he added.
Finally, Salamé said they expect the UN office in Benghazi, in the east, to be reopened before the end of January