Thursday, September 22, 2011

Prime Suspect in Bombing of Marrakech Cafe Recants Culpability

Adel Othmani, the chief suspect in the trial stemming from the bombing of a Moroccan cafe popular with tourists recanted his confession on Thursday (September 22) and denied any involvement in the attack that killed 17 people in Marrakech on April 28, 2011. The attack is one of the worst to befall Morocco in recent years. It also claimed the lives of several foreigners.

COMMENT: The blast tore through the Argana cafe in Marrakech’s old town, and also killed eight French tourists, as well as British, Swiss, Moroccan and Portuguese victims. Perhaps one reason that Marrakech was selected by the terrorists was because of Morocco's consistent support of the US and because it is such a magnet for foreign tourists.

Othmani, whose charges include explosives-making, is one of eight defendants being tried for the attack. The others are being charged with lesser charges, such as membership in a banned group.The trial will resume Sept. 29.

Described as the main perpetrator of the attack, Othmani had earlier both confessed and participated in a reenactment of the attack. He told the judge he did both under threat of torture. Conversely, he alleged that Morocco's intelligence service orchestrated the attack to deflect pro-democracy protests. Othmani was arrested three days after the bombing in the coastal city of Safi. A SIM card owned by Othmani was also used in the cafe bombing.

The trial was emotionally charged, as the survivors and families of foreign tourists who were killed in the attack came to Rabat for the trial. The proceedings will continue on September 29.

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