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Morocco: Court postpones examination of Israel naturalisation trafficking file

Flag of Morocco [Kristin Harvey/Flickr]
Flag of Morocco, 8 May 2019 [Kristin Harvey/Flickr]

A Moroccan second instance Court of Appeal in Casablanca, assigned with the case of naturalisation trafficking of Israelis with Moroccan citizenship, decided on Wednesday to postpone the court session dedicated to the case until a later date.

The Appeals Chamber of the Court of Appeal in Casablanca, headed by Judge Hassan El-Telfi, opened the case file of what was known as the "Israelis naturalisation network", and postponed the remaining initial requests until hearing the 28 accused, including Israelis convicted at the initial stage and received penalties ranging between six months to six years in prison.

The network specialising in the falsification of passports for Israeli nationals, was spearheaded by two Moroccan women, Ihssan Jenanat and Amira Boujendar, who launched the network under the initiative of Israeli, Mimoun Perez.

At the end of the session, the court decided to include the formal defences submitted by the defendants' defence team in the file of the Israelis naturalisation network, and to postpone the remaining initial requests until the accused are heard.

The phases of the trial witnessed a heavy presence of the defendants' families, including employees of some public administrations and security officers. The defence team provided their formal defences and initial requests, while raising the issue of bringing the seized evidence mentioned in the judicial police records and stressing that their clients cannot be tried without finalising this step.

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Hespress quoted lawyer Attar Al-Hawari as stating that: "The inspection process that was carried out did not respect legal procedures, as there was no case of flagrante delicto, in addition to the absence of a search warrant." He stressed that: "In the absence of a search warrant, we can say that the inspection was illegal, therefore request the honourable court to exclude what has been seized."

Lawyers have been debating the interception of the defendants' phone calls, raising the issue in their formal defences, where they emphasised that the process of intercepting calls is exceptional and can be carried out in relation to issues affecting national security and narcotics trafficking, while this case is related to bribery and forgery, and therefore it does not amount to requiring authority approved by the legislator.

The defence asked the court to exclude the records that included the transcription of the phone calls, noting that if the court is to approve it, then it must be brought in and presented to the defendants, in addition to evaluating the recordings in order to identify the persons behind the voices.

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The court had issued, in its initial stages, several penalties against the 28 accused, ranging from six months to six years in prison, in effect. Thus, the court has sentenced the main defendants in this file with six years in prison.

Security sources confirmed that the criminal network adopted a unique method, which consisted of forging birth records for foreigners who hold Israeli passports, on the pretext of having Moroccan origins, and then proceeded to obtain certificates of non-registration in the civil status records and present the document to court, seeking permission to register it in the civil registration archives. After finalising this step, the defendants sought to obtain birth certificates for Jewish Moroccan citizens.

Investigations revealed that a number of Israelis obtained Moroccan identity documents in this fraudulent manner, in exchange for significant financial sums. Criminal investigations also indicated that among the arrested suspects were those involved in transnational criminal activities.

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