CASABLANCA: A Moroccan judge on Tuesday took the trial of journalist and rights activist Omar Radi behind closed doors, a move his supporters slammed as “a new violation”.

Radi has been in detention for almost a year on charges of espionage and rape which he denies.

The judge in the court of appeal in Casablanca said the decision to take the case behind closed doors was made “in consideration of the honour’ of the defendant.

The 34-year-old faces charges of rape and “undermining the internal security of the state”, two separate cases that were investigated individually but will be judged together.

In the rape case, he has denied his accuser’s claim that their relations had not been consensual.

The judge’s move in the Radi case comes days after another Moroccan journalist Soulaimane Raissouni was sentenced to five years in jail for indecent assault against a man.

The United States criticised that legal decision and urged its ally Morocco to protect media freedom.

“We believe the judicial process that led to this verdict contradicts the Moroccan system’s fundamental promise of fair trials for individuals accused of crimes and is inconsistent with the promise of the 2011 constitution and His Majesty King Mohammed VI’s reform agenda,“ State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington on Monday.

Radi’s supporters on Tuesday said in a statement that the decision to hear his case behind closed doors is “a new violation of the conditions for a fair trial”.

His lawyer Abdelkrim Mlih said that the case was not political and should be heard in public. — AFP


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