Prosecutor wants death penalty in Morocco blast case

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Prosecutor in Morocco on Thursday told a court that the alleged mastermind of an April bomb attack in Marrakesh and one of his accomplices should be sentenced to death.

The nine men on trial for orchestrating the April 28 blast that ripped through a cafe packed with European tourists, killing 17, have denied guilt in the case.

"The facts are proven. The accusation is established, verified and proven," prosecutor Khalid Kardodi told the court while asking that suspected ringleader Adil Al-Atmani and co-accused Hakim al Dah be sentenced to death. He said the accused had acknowledged their links to the "Salafist" and "Jihadist" movements as well "to the ideas of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb".

Salafism is a radical, conservative branch of Islam.

Atmani has said that he made trips to Libya, Mauritania, Mali and Algeria and, according to co-defendant Mohamed Njim, previously expressed a desire to practice jihad (holy war) in Chechnya.

Atmani initially admitted to his role in the bombing but later retracted his confession, claiming he had been set up.

Morocco has not enforced its death penalty provision since 1992.

Lawyers representing the victims in the case, including the French and Swiss relatives of those killed, earlier this month asked the court to sentence the perpetrators to life in prison and not death.

Kardodi asked that the seven other defendants be given "the maximum sentence in conformity with the charges against them".

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's north African branch for the bombing but AQIM, seen behind a series of attacks and kidnappings in north Africa, denies responsibility.

© 2011 AFP

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