Death sentences for Moroccan backpacker murderers

149

Three Moroccan men were sentenced to death for murdering two Scandinavian women in the Atlas Mountains.

Louisa Vesterager Jespersen (24) from Denmark and Maren Ueland (28) from Norway, were killed in a tent in December near the Moroccan village Imlil, a popular hiking destination.

The anti-terrorism court in Sale, near Rabat, heard earlier the men pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a video days before the murder.

Two – Abdessamad Ejjoud and Youness Ouziyad – told the court they decapitated the women and the third – Rachid Afatti – said he filmed the killing and posted the footage online.

A fourth man said he left the group before the murders was given a life sentence.

On Thursday, the men said: “May God forgive us” and one added: “There is no God but Allah” when the judge asked for final statements before giving his verdict.

Their lawyer, Hafida El Maksaoui, said she would appeal against the sentences.

Twenty other people with links to the killers were sentenced to between five and 30 years for forming a criminal gang to commit terrorist acts, encouraging terrorism, undermining public order and other crimes.

All were Moroccan apart from one Swiss national, Kevin Ziller Guervos, accused of persuading people to join militant groups and handed a 20-year sentence.

The court ordered the four main convicts to pay two million dirham ($209,000) compensation to Ueland’s family.

Lawyers for Jespersen’s family asked for the state, not the murderers to pay, saying the men would not afford it. The court turned down the request and made no other order for payments.