Death penalty sought in Morocco bombing trial

AP News
Posted: Oct 20, 2011 4:46 PM
Death penalty sought in Morocco bombing trial

A Moroccan prosecutor requested the death penalty Thursday against two men accused of roles in a cafe bombing at a Moroccan tourism destination that killed 17 people _ mostly foreigners.

Eight people are on trial in Sale over the April 28 blast in the Argana cafe in Marrakech's old town, which killed eight French tourists in addition to British, Swiss, Moroccan and Portuguese victims.

The state prosecutor asked the court to hand down the death penalty against Adel al-Othmani, who is accused of disguising himself as a tourist and planting the remotely-detonated bomb, and alleged accomplice Hakim Dah.

Defendants have denied the charges and said they were tortured into confessing. Al-Othmani, who police say has loyalties to al-Qaida, recanted his confession in court last month.

Reports by police and judicial investigators indicated witnesses had testified that the defendants had bought chemicals used to build the bomb, the prosecutor said.

A group of victims' relatives opposes any death penalty in the case.

Most of the defendants denied knowing or having any doings with al-Othmani. One, however, said he had spoken with him and knew that he had traveled to Turkey and Chechnya for jihad.

The attack shook relatively peaceful Morocco, a staunch U.S. ally that drew nearly 10 million tourists last year to its sandy beaches, desert and mountain landscapes, and historic sites.

The trial resumes Oct. 27 with defense arguments.