Morocco Jails 3 Ex-Guantanamo Detainees

Saturday, November 11, 2006

By MOHAMED MOUSTAID, Associated Press Writer

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RABAT, Morocco — Three former detainees at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were convicted in Morocco for creating a criminal group and forging documents, the state news agency reported.

The criminal court in Sale, near the capital, Rabat, sentenced Mohamed Souleymani Laalami to five years in prison for creating a criminal group, the MAP news agency reported late Friday.

Two other defendants, Najib Lahssini and Mohammed Ouali, were sentenced to three years each on charges of falsifying documents, the news agency said. It said the Moroccan court case was unrelated to their detention at Guantanamo, where the three men spent up to 4 1/2 years in U.S. custody.

Abdelaziz Nouidi, a lawyer for Souleymani, said his client would appeal.

The lawyer denied accusations that Souleymani, 30, had any ties to Salafia Jihadia, a radical group allegedly linked to al-Qaida that has been blamed for simultaneous suicide attacks in Casablanca in May 2003 that killed 45 people, including 12 bombers.

Souleymani also denied claims that he trained with al-Qaida in Afghanistan, where he was detained in October 2001, according to the lawyer.

Details of what led to the detention of Lahssini and Ouali at Guantanamo were not available.

The Moroccan government confirmed in February that the United States had handed over the three men, but did not say when the transfer took place.

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