Morocco’s king pardons journalist jailed on abortion charges

A demonstrator holds up a sign showing the portrait of Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni during a protest outside a courthouse holding her trial on charges of abortion in Marrakesh on September 9, 2019. PHOTO | FADEL SENNA | AFP
Moroccan activists hold posters of Hajar Raissouni during a protest outside the Rabat tribunal. Photograph: Youssef Boudlal/Reuters

The King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, pardoned the 28-year-old journalist Hajar Raissouni who was sentenced to a year in jail for having a late-term abortion and sexual relations outside marriage, according to an official.

Raissouni was found guilty last month under the penal code which bars sex before marriage and abortion, except if the mother’s life is in danger.

Raissouni was arrested on August 31 as she left a clinic in Rabat, where her lawyer Saad Sahli said she had been undergoing treatment for internal bleeding.

The prosecution insisted she had been seen by a medic and showed signs of pregnancy and of having undergone a “late voluntary abortion”.

The prosecution insisted that her detention had nothing to do with her profession as a journalist given that Raissouni works for Akhbar al Yaoum, an independent newspaper critical of the government.

Raissouni, who is religiously but not yet legally married, was due to wed her Sudanese partner. He was also arrested at the same time, along with the doctor, a nurse and a secretary.

Her fiancé, Rifaat al-Amin, was also sentenced to a year in prison. Her doctor, Mohammed Jamal Belkeziz, was sentenced to two years. An assistant to the doctor and a nurse were also found guilty but handed suspended sentences.

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