Ali Aarrass - (Morocco) POC 2011
Ali Aarrass – Morocco (POC 2011)
Age 53 years
Status Married with a 20 year old daughter
Ali Aarrass was born in the Spanish enclave of Melilla, in northern Morocco and moved to Belgium when he was 15 years old. He obtained Belgium nationality in 1989 and he is a dual Belgian-Moroccan national. He returned to Melilla, with his wife, in 2005 to live close to his ageing father.
In 2006, the Spanish authorities suspected him of terrorism and began investigating him under the supervision of veteran anti-terrorism judge Baltasar Garzon. Garzon closed the case in 2009 after finding no evidence against Ali Aarrass.
Spanish authorities, however, imprisoned him because the Moroccan authorities requested his extradition on fresh terrorism charges. He was extradited to Morocco on 14 December 2010, despite warnings by the UN Human Rights Committee and Amnesty International that he risked detention, torture and unfair trial in Morocco.
In Morocco, Ali Aarrass was held incommunicado and tortured for 12 days in a secret detention centre run by one of Morocco’s intelligence agencies, the General Directorate for the Surveillance of the Territory, in the city of Témara, near the capital, Rabat.
He was formally arrested by the Moroccan police and transferred to Salé II prison, where he remains. He was convicted, on 19 November 2011, for illegal use of weapons and participation in a group intending to commit acts of terrorism and sentenced to 15 years in prison, reduced to 12 years on appeal. The convection is solely on the basis of statements extracted under torture.
The torture claims were investigated by a forensic medical examination ordered by the Rabat Crown Prosecutor and carried out on 8 December 2011, nearly one year after he was first tortured. The examination concluded that Ali Aarrass bore no signs of torture. This conclusion was contradicted by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan Mendez. He and an independent forensic doctor visited Ali Aarrass on 20 September 2012, and confirmed that he had been tortured and that his account of how and when he was tortured was consistent with their forensic medical findings.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has confirmed that Ali Aarrass had been convicted solely on the basis of confessions extracted under torture.
Ali Aarrass’s family in Belgium are prosecuting the Belgian authorities for failing to provide consular assistance to Ali Aarrass.
On 16 June 2014, Morocco's National Council for Human Rights called for an investigation into several cases of reported torture including Ali Aarrass. This is the first public move in support his case by the National Council.
On 24 June 2014, Amnesty International delegates raised the case of Ali Aarrass with Moroccan authorities in Rabat. The delegates also met with the Belgian ambassador in Rabat to discuss the need for a consular visit to Ali Aarrass in prison, which Belgian authorities have still not carried out, three and a half years after his detention. The Moroccan and Belgian authorities have blamed each other for this failure. Amnesty International Belgium will follow-up on this issue. The outcome of the appeal in Ali Aarrass’ court case in Belgium regarding the authorities’ obligation to provide consular assistance will be announced on 11 September 2014.