Morocco Backpacker Murders - Court Confirms Death Penalty for Killers

The High Atlas Mountains in Morocco.
31 October 2019

An appeals court in Morocco has confirmed death sentences handed down to three men for the beheading of two Scandinavian tourists in the Atlas Mountains. The murders last year shocked the North African country.

An anti-terrorist court in the northwestern city of Sale on Wednesday upheld the death penalty against three defendants and ordered a fourth man to be executed over the murder of two Scandinavian hikers.

The four had been convicted in July for decapitating Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and Norwegian Maren Ueland, 28, in the High Atlas mountain range last December.

They had pledged allegiance to the extremist group "Islamic State" in a video shot days before the women's bodies were discovered near the summit of Mount Toubkal.

Among those sentenced to death was ringleader Abdessamad Ejjoud, an underground imam, who had confessed to planning the attack with two other radicalized Moroccans.

The fourth man had originally been given life in prison for his involvement in the killings, which caused shock in Morocco and around the world.

It is unlikely the death penalties will ever be carried out. Although capital punishment is legal in Morocco, there have been no executions there in more than 25 years because of a moratorium.

Also on Wednesday, the tribunal increased another man's jail sentence from 15 to 20 years, and confirmed prison sentences against 19 other men.

The defendants have 10 days to present a final appeal before the Court of Cassation.

(AFP, EFE, dpa)

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