Morocco: 9 Spanish and Moroccan traffickers sentenced after the death of a young migrant.

Seven Moroccans and two Spaniards were sentenced to up to ten years in prison for smuggling migrants, which notably resulted in the

death of a 22-year-old Moroccan student in September 2018, off the coast of Morocco.

The sentence was declared overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday by the court in Tétouan (north), said one of the lawyers who did not

wish to be named.

Hayat Belkacem, a law student from Tetouan, was fatally shot by a Moroccan Navy as she attempted to smuggle into Spain aboard a “Go

fast”, a powerful motor boat generally used by drug traffickers.

The shooting killed three people: three Moroccans aged 20 to 30, hidden like her under a tarpaulin on board the boat, according to a

Moroccan military source. The drama had aroused excitement and indignation in Morocco.

The Spanish pilot of the boat was arrested on the spot.

He was sentenced to ten years in prison for “forming a criminal gang” and “aiding and abetting illegal migration”, while his accomplices

received sentences ranging from four to ten years in prison, according to the lawyer contacted by AFP. .

It was not possible to immediately confirm these convictions with the court. Hayat’s family has also launched an action against the

Moroccan state before the administrative court in Rabat, according to the lawyer contacted by the AFP.

Attempts by young Moroccans to leave for Spain, one of the first gateways to Europe, have seen an upsurge in recent months.

The available data which shows an overall decline does not mention the nationalities: in total, around 25,000 illegal immigrants have

arrived by sea in Spain since early January 2019 against 55,000 in 2018, according to the World Organization for Migration (IOM).

Morocco has stepped up the fight against illegal migration in recent months, with European and Spanish aid.

On Wednesday 18, 2019 the human rights association AMDH-Nador told AFP that three members of the auxiliary forces responsible for

monitoring the coast were arrested earlier this week in Nador (north) because of suspected complicity with networks of illegal migration.

This information could not be confirmed from official sources.

By Subiru Madina