The ITF has condemned as ‘utterly unbelievable’ a totally unexpected decision by a Moroccan court to sentence trade union leaders Said Elhairech and Mohamed Chamchati to jail terms.
The criminal Court of First Instance in Rabat yesterday sentenced to one year in jail Elhairech, the general secretary of the Moroccan Ports Union, part of the ITF-affiliated UMT, and chair of the ITF Arab World regional committee. He will appeal against the charges of participating in obstructing freedom of action according to article 288 of the Moroccan Criminal Code (criminalisation of trade union action).
The same court has reportedly also sentenced Mohamed Chamchati, general secretary of the Moroccan merchant seafarers’ union, to two and a half years’ imprisonment. More details of the charges are expected soon.
Elhairech was released in October 2012 with his innocence proven and all charges dropped, except one minor one, following his arrest for ‘sabotage and endangering national security’ in June that year. He had utterly rejected the charges and the ITF was unequivocal in its stance that he had been wrongly targeted following his very effective work on behalf of crews stranded by the cessation of operations of the Comarit-Comanav ferry company, work he undertook at the ITF’s request.
Mohamed Chamchati was also unjustly arrested in June 2012 on clearly mistaken charges. In November he and other union officials were released without charge.
ITF president Paddy Crumlin stated: “These sentences defy belief. Last year Said and Mohamed faced serious, cooked-up charges of sabotage and endangering national security. Following worldwide protests led by the ITF those ridiculous charges were rightly dropped. Now, in a shocking breach of trust and logic they have once again come under legal attack for their legitimate trade union work in defence of workers rights.”
He continued: “These men are guilty of nothing more than being effective trade unionists. We will fight these unjust and idiotic decisions all the way.”
For related ITF press and news online stories see here. For other news and videos, visit the ITF’s Free Said campaign page here.