A Moroccan journalist sentenced to a year in prison for an illegal abortion and premarital sex has been pardoned by the country’s king in the latest twist of a case which has come to symbolize repression of women’s rights and freedom of speech.
Hajar Raissouni was found guilty of charges of “having an illegal abortion and sexual relations outside marriage”. Her fiancé, Prof Rifaat al-Amin, was also given a one-year sentence, while a doctor, Mohammed Jamal Belkeziz, was given a two-year sentence in the same trial for alleged complicity.
On Wednesday, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI pardoned all three in a move criticised by observers as a cosmetic solution.
“This royal pardon comes within a framework of royal compassion and clemency, amid concern by his majesty the King to preserve the future of the couple who intended to start a family in line with religious precepts and the law, despite the error they committed which led to the legal proceedings,” declared the King, via a royal communiqué.
Raissouni, who was arrested outside a clinic in Rabat with her fiancé on 31 August, maintained from the start that she never underwent an abortion. Both she and the medical staff arrested along with the couple said she was treated to remove a blood clot.
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