Spanish-Swiss suspect due in court over ties to Morocco killers
A Spanish-Swiss man suspected of having ties to those accused of murdering two Scandinavian women hiking in Morocco will appear in court on Monday, his lawyer has told AFP.
“After the preliminary hearing, there will be a more detailed hearing, which will be longer, with more detailed questions, the suspect’s lawyer Saad Sahli said Friday.
Other suspects will also be present at the court house in Sale, near the Moroccan capital Rabat, said Sahli who represents the other defendants too.
Moroccan authorities have charged more than 20 people over their alleged involvement in the killing of the two hikers whose bodies were found on December 17.
Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland were found dead south of Marrakesh in a trekking area popular with foreign tourists.
The two women were beheaded in what authorities say was a “terrorist” act.
A video showing the killing of one of the hikers was circulated online and sparked outrage in Morocco.
The Spanish-Swiss suspect, who was arrested in Marrakesh, subscribed to “extremist ideology”, the authorities allege.
He is accused of having “taught certain people arrested in this affair the communication tools of new technologies and of having trained them to shoot,” according to the anti-terror unit of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ).
Investigators say the Spanish-Swiss suspect was involved in “recruitment operations and the indoctrination of Moroccan citizens and sub-Saharan Africans to execute terrorist plans in Morocco.”
Moroccan media have said a Swiss-British man has also been arrested as part of the probe, although the BCIJ has not confirmed the reports.
The authorities allege that the four main suspects were inspired by the Islamic State group, but say they were not in direct contact with IS members in Iraq or Syria.
Morocco, which relies heavily on tourism income, suffered a jihadist attack in 2011, when a bomb blast at a cafe in Marrakesh’s famed Jamaa El Fna Square killed 17 people, mostly European tourists.
An attack in the North African state’s financial capital Casablanca killed 33 people in 2003.