Sun, Aug 07, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Morocco arrests six over death of teen rape victim

AFP, RABAT

Morocco on Friday launched a probe into the death of a teenage rape victim who set herself on fire after her alleged rapists threatened to tell all, a rights group said.

The Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) said an autopsy after the girl’s death last week showed she was pregnant.

Last year, “eight young men abducted the girl,” who was then 16, from her home town in Ben Guerir, north of Marrakesh, “and then took turns to rape her,” AMDH Marrakesh head Omar Arbib said.

The girl’s family lodged a complaint and police later arrested seven suspects who were referred to a prosecutor for questioning, Arbib said. An eighth suspect was later arrested.

However, according to Arbib, the prosecutor granted the suspects a provisional release.

He said that after being freed, they threatened the girl, saying they would “publish pictures of the rape, which they had taken with their mobile phones, unless she drops the complaint against them.”

“This is the reason why last Friday she set herself on fire,” Arbib said.

The girl suffered third-degree burns and died the following day in a hospital, he said, adding that the autopsy showed that she was pregnant.

Her death prompted the prosecutor to order the arrest of six of the eight suspects, who were detained on Thursday, Arbib said.

It was not immediately clear why the other two suspects were not arrested.

As in numerous other Arab countries, sexual harassment is commonplace in Morocco, despite the adoption of a new constitution in 2011 that enshrines gender equality.

Moroccan nongovernmental organizations say that 80 percent of sexual attacks affect children, mostly aged between five and 14, and that in a high percentage of cases the assailants are family members.

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