Authorities use all possible means to prevent publication of "Demain Magazine"
(RSF/IFEX) - RSF is outraged over the Moroccan authorities' relentless harassment of "Demain Magazine" publication director Ali Lmrabet, who was recently sentenced to four monthsâ imprisonment and a 30,000 Dirham fine (approx. US$2,600; 3,000 Euros). "While the journalist had some difficulty collecting the money required to pay the fine, the tribunal is now doing everything possible so as not to cash his cheque. Moreover, the authorities have shown no scruples in putting pressure on âDemain Magazineââs distributor. It is a disgrace. Operating completely outside of the law, the authorities demonstrate that they are prepared to do anything to close one of the rare newspapers that tries to inform freely," stated RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard. "We again ask King Mohammed VI to personally intervene so that âDemain Magazineâ can be put on the market for sale normally and to publicly commit to guaranteeing press freedom," he added.
According to information collected by RSF, Lmrabet, publication director of "Demain Magazine", who was sentenced by the Rabat Tribunal to four monthsâ imprisonment and a 30,000 Dirham fine on 21 November 2001, managed to collect the money needed to pay the fine on the evening of 4 December. On 7 December, the Rabat Prosecutorâs Office first rejected the journalistâs cheque, demanding an accompanying letter. Once the letter was provided, the Prosecutorâs Office demanded that he pay the fine in cash. Having returned with the necessary cash and the letter, the journalistâs lawyer found the tribunalâs cashierâs desk closed and learned that the prosecutor was absent. At the same time, Lmrabet was informed that his newspaperâs distributor was forced to sign a statement in which he pledged not to distribute "Demain Magazine".
Lmrabet was prosecuted for "distribution of false information undermining or likely to undermine public order". An article published in the 20 October edition of "Demain Magazine", titled "The Skhirat Palace is reportedly for sale", was described by the Rabat first instance prosecutor as a "fabric of false information and totally false allegations." At the time, Lmrabet told RSF, "They want to humiliate us. It is a reflection of today's Morocco." Lmrabet believes that the real reason for the legal action against him is the publication in his newspaper's 27 October edition of excerpts from Jean-Pierre Tuquoi's most recent book about Morocco, titled "The Last King", as well as his articles about Moulay Hicham, the king's cousin. Though the journalist had decided not to appeal the sentence, the Prosecutorâs Office itself lodged an appeal on 1 December.
On 7 December, at around 5:00 p.m. (local time), the Rabat Prosecutorâs Office finally cashed Lmrabetâs 30,000 Dirham fine. "Demain Magazine" was in news stands on the morning of 8 December. However, that same day, the weekly was seized by police officers after going on sale, despite the fact that the journalist had paid the fine.