Trial opens in Moroccan teen gang rape case

Moroccan teenager Khadija Okkarou, 17, displays tattoos in the village of Oulad Ayad, Morocco. (Getty Images)
Updated 21 May 2019

Trial opens in Moroccan teen gang rape case

  • Footage posted online showed the 17-year-old's arms and legs covered in burns
  • The violence against the teenager, whose name is Khadija, has sparked outrage

RABAT: The trial of 12 men accused of kidnapping and gang raping a Moroccan teenager in her village last August opened Tuesday in the central town of Beni Mellal and was adjourned at the request of both sides.
Lawyer Ibrahim Hachane, who said his client, the plaintiff, was not in court, told AFP that the case was adjourned to June 25.
The accused, aged between 19 and 29, are being tried on several charges including human trafficking, rape, kidnapping and forming an organised gang.
Conviction on a trafficking charge can carry a 30-year prison sentence.
Another suspect is to be tried separately behind closed doors on June 11 as he was a minor at the time of the alleged offences, Hachane said.

Khadija Okkarou’s showed horrific scars allegedly from cigarette burns and tattoos carved into parts of her body. (AFP)

He said the accused had confessed to police but most of them had retracted before a magistrate.
In a video posted online, Khadija Okkarou said members of a "dangerous gang" had kidnapped and held her prisoner for two months, raping and torturing her.
She showed horrific scars allegedly from cigarette burns and tattoos carved into parts of her body.
The case has stirred outrage in Morocco, where an official report has found that more than 90 percent of Moroccan victims of violence had failed to file a complaint.
Rape victims in Morocco are often subject to a double trauma as its conservative society blames them for their ordeal.

Militant rocket fire kills 12 civilians in Syria: state media

Updated 27 min 19 sec ago

Militant rocket fire kills 12 civilians in Syria: state media

  • Former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham being blamed for the attack

DAMASCUS: Rocket fire has killed 12 civilians in a regime-held village in northwestern Syria, state news agency SANA has said blaming former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham for the attack.

SANA said 15 people were also wounded late Sunday in the attack on Al-Wadihi village south of Aleppo city and said HTS, which controls parts of Aleppo’s countryside as well as most of neighboring Idlib, was responsible.

It published graphic pictures purporting to show some of the victims in a hospital in the aftermath of the attack, including of bandaged men and children lying on stretchers, thick blankets covering their bodies.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the same death toll — saying five children were among those killed — and also blamed militants based in rural Aleppo for the attack.

But the Britain-based monitor did not specify whether HTS or other allied militant groups were responsible.

The attack came as Syrian government forces have been locked in clashes with HTS fighters in nearby Hama province.

More than 35 combatants, mostly regime forces, were killed on Saturday in battles in Hama’s countryside, according to the Observatory.

Parts of Aleppo, Hama and Idlib are supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented as militants refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, HTS extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian government and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.