Marrakesh bomber sentenced to death

By Andrew Rosemarine, October 31, 2011

A Moroccan court has sentenced a jihadist to death, a fellow conspirator to life-imprisonment, and seven others to lesser punishments for the murder of 17 people including JC writer Peter Moss and a Moroccan Israeli couple, at the Argana Restaurant in Jma al Fnaa, in Marrakesh, on April 28 2011. Twenty others were injured. Al Qaida in North Africa claimed responsibility at the time.

An anti-terror court in Sale, next to Rabat, condemned Adil Othmani to the heaviest penalty, although it has not been carried out here since 1992. He admitted his guilt before an examining magistrate, but later retracted his confession.

One of his co-accused gave evidence that Othmani had told him of his intention to fight in jihad. His lawyer has said he will appeal.

Seven of the co-accused were given sentences of four or two years. Victims' families ave complained, and the public prosecutor will appeal those sentences for being too light. Little Camilla Dewally, was aged ten when killed by Othmani's bomb. Her mother said she had lost faith in Moroccan justice, because Othmani's co-conspirators were given such short sentences.

West Hampstead writer and stand-up comedian Peter Moss was 59 at his death, and the father of two children. The Moroccan Ambassador to London attended his funeral, and assured the JC at the time of her country's "firm determination to rapidly bring those accountable to justice."

Jewish couple Messaoud Zekri and his pregnant wife Michal Zekri-Weizman, also died in the blast. The pair had travelled to Marrakesh to visit Mr Zekri's father for Pesach.

When Othmani was convicted, his sister's cries of complaint interrupted the court's judgment, and then she fainted.

Morocco voted for a new constitution this summer which guaranties "the right to life." Othmani's lawyer is planning to use it to prevent his client's execution.

I visited the bomb scene just after the explosion, and witnessed the energy with which the Moroccan authorities sought out the culprits. It has taken only six months for the case to be heard and sentences to be given.

Andrew M Rosemarine is an international lawyer

Last updated: 9:47am, October 31 2011