Morocco Journalist Gets 1-Year Jail For ‘Illegal Abortion’

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A Rabat court on Monday sentenced Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni to one year in jail for having had an “illegal abortion” and sexual relations outside marriage.

Her gynaecologist was sentenced to two years and her Sudanese fiance one year in prison, while an anaesthetist was handed a one-year suspended sentence and a medical assistant eight months, also suspended.

Lawyers for 28-year-old Raissouni had called for her acquittal during the trial, denying she had had an abortion.

A journalist for Akhbar Al-Yaoum — an Arabic-language newspaper which has a history of run-ins with the authorities — she was sentenced under Article 490 of Morocco’s legal code.

That article punishes sexual relations out of wedlock, while the law also forbids all abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger.

Raissouni was arrested on August 31 as she left a clinic in Rabat.

In court, she denied having had an abortion and said she had been treated for internal bleeding — testimony backed up by her gynaecologist.

The journalist denounced a “political trial”, saying she had been questioned by police about her family — including an uncle who is an outspoken Islamist newspaper columnist — and about her own writing.

The prosecution insisted she had been seen by a medic and showed signs of pregnancy and of having undergone a “late voluntary abortion”.

It had contended her detention had “nothing to do with her profession as a journalist”.

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