A Moroccan court sentenced a Swiss national to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges over links to suspects in the killing of two Scandinavian women near Marrakech in December, the state news agency MAP said.
Louisa Vesterager Jespersen (24) from Denmark and Maren Ueland (28) from Norway were found dead on December 17 near Imlil in the Atlas Mountains.
The 33-year-old man sentenced was identified by Moroccan media only as Nicolas P. Media said he also holds British citizenship.
Arrested on December 29 in Marrakech, he was tried on charges of “forming a gang to plot and commit terrorist acts aiming at seriously undermining state security, intentionally helping perpetrators of terrorist acts, training people to join terrorist organisations and apologia for terrorism,” MAP said.
The first instance verdict, which will likely be followed by an appeal, was separate from the case of a Swiss-Spanish national, identified by media as Kevin P. His lawyer, Saad Salhi, told Reuters his trial, as part of a group of 25 other suspects in the double murder, had not begun yet.
Four main suspects pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a video made three days before the tourists’ bodies were found. Authorities described them after they were arrested as “lone wolves” who had not co-ordinated the killings with Islamic State.
Compared with other countries in North Africa, Morocco is largely insulated from Islamist militant violence.
The most recent attack was in April 2011 when 17 people were killed in the bombing of a restaurant in Marrakech. In 2017 and 2018, Morocco said it dismantled 20 militant cells planning attacks in the country.