Court of Appeals in Morocco increases prison sentences in child rape case following public outcry.

A Moroccan court has increased the prison sentences of three men convicted of “indecent assault” for repeatedly raping an 11-year-old girl, a case that caused public outrage.

The appeals court in Rabat, Morocco’s capital, sentenced one man to 20 years in prison while the other two received 10 years each.

The girl’s lawyers had appealed after a lower court sentenced one of the three attackers to two years and the others to 18 months. The court ordered the three attackers to pay damages of 140,000 dirhams (nearly $14,000) instead of the initially ordered 50,000 dirhams.

Lawyer Abdelfattah Zahrach said the decision delivered justice to the victim but did not understand why two attackers were only sentenced to 10 years, adding that he might consider a further appeal to the Court of Cassation after consulting the child’s family.

The court heard testimonies from the victim and a witness, who is also a minor, in private after the prosecution raised child protection concerns.

The public gallery was packed for the hearing, which lasted until the early hours of Friday.

The accused faced charges of “misappropriation of a minor” and “indecent assault on a minor with violence”. The prosecution requested to add the charge of “rape,” which the judge rejected.

The case caused an uproar in the North African country, and a petition condemning the initial sentences gained tens of thousands of signatures.

The Jossour Forum of Moroccan Women said in a statement last month that the girl, from a village near Rabat, was repeatedly raped over several months.

Amina Khalid, head of women’s rights group INSAF, said the girl “is starting to smile a little but she is still in shock” and has helped the girl go to school for the first time. (AFP)

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