Morocco blast suspects should get life in prison: victims

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Lawyers representing the victims of an April bomb blast in Morocco on Thursday asked a court to sentence the perpetrators to life in prison and not death.

The nine men accused of launching the April 28 a bomb attack that ripped through a Marrakesh cafe packed with European tourists, killing 17, could if convicted be sentenced to death, but the penalty has not been enforced in Morocco since 1992.

"The proof (of guilt) is established, and the families of the victims are asking for the maximum prison sentence, excluding the death penalty," lawyer Omar Abou Zohor told court as the case resumed Thursday.

Each of the suspects has denied any involvement in the cafe blast whose victims included eight French nationals as well as citizens of Britain, Canada, Switzerland, Portugal and The Netherlands.

The next hearing in the case is fixed for October 20.

"Don't condemn them to death because they want to show that they are dying as martyrs. Don't give them that chance," said Frank Berpon, a French lawyer representing one of the affected families.

The suspects are accused of "seriously undermining public order, premeditated murder and laying an ambush, the possession of and making of explosives, and belonging to a banned religious group."

Moroccan authorities had initially blamed Al-Qaeda north Africa branch in for the bombing.

But Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, behind a series of attacks and kidnappings in north Africa, denies responsibility.

© 2011 AFP

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