Morocco: Rapper sentenced to four months in prison

The Moroccan rapper Mouad Belghaoute – known by his stage name El Haqed (also spelled: Lhaqed) – has been sentenced to four months in prison. He is furthermore to pay a fine of 1,350 euros to the two police officers he was accused of attacking. An accusation of selling tickets in the black market was removed.

The verdict was pronounced on 1 July 2014 in the absence of the rapper and his lawyers who decided to withdraw themselves from the trial on 24 June 2014 because the court would not accept any of the evidences, witnesses and expertise presented during the defence.

El Haqed claimed his innocence since his arrest on 18 May 2014.

It is the third time El Haqed will go to prison in less than three years. He served a sentence of four months for assault in 2011, while attending the first protests of the 20 February movement. In May 2012, he was sentenced to one year in prison for ‘insulting the police’ after his song ‘Klab Eddawla’ (‘Dogs of the State’) denounced the abuses of the Moroccan police.

According to his lawyer, El Haqed is in reality being sentenced for his political views, for his commitment and for his popularity – and not for what he has been accused of. He has just released an album called ‘Walou’ (‘Nothing’) – which refers to that nothing has changed in the field of justice, education and democracy.

Freemuse strongly condemns the court decision to sentence rapper Lhaqed four months prison. Freemuse has attended several hearings and is very critical to the courts decision of not accepting evidences, witnesses and expertise of the defense.

“It has not been a fair trial from the beginning and we appeal to the Morroccan authorities to release the artist immediately,” said Ole Reitov, Executive Director of Freemuse.