RABAT, Morocco – A former Guantanamo detainee has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a criminal court in his native Morocco, his lawyer said Friday.
Said Boujandia, 39, was found guilty of multiple counts of terrorism-related charges by the Sale criminal court near Morocco's capital, Rabat.
Morocco's official news agency said these included planning acts of sabotage targeting foreign interests in northern Morocco, funding and participating in a criminal group and illegal emigration.
Defense lawyer Toufik Msaef said he would appeal the verdict handed down Thursday because of mistakes in the prosecution's case.
"I'm convinced my client will be completely acquitted on appeal," Msaef told The Associated Press.
Morocco's official MAP news agency said a prosecutor told the court that Boujandia confessed to having traveled to Chechnya for training before heading to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban. His lawyer said he never confessed to any crime.
Boujandia was arrested on the Afghan border in 2001 and transferred to the U.S. military prison of Guantanamo Bay, where he was held seven years. U.S. authorities transferred him to Morocco in May.
Nearly a dozen other former Guantanamo detainees have been transferred back to Morocco, but Msaef said none has been sentenced there, in part because most prosecution cases are based on elements handed over by the U.S. military that are deemed shaky.
Separately Friday, the Sale criminal court, which specializes in terrorism cases, also decided to adjourn a trial involving 35 people suspected of involvement in a terror cell.
The trial has been adjourned to Dec. 26, said lawyer Khalid Sefiani, who defends some of the suspects. The group was arrested in February and accused of holding large quantities of weapons and explosives.
Interior Minister Chakib Benoussa said at the time that the cell's alleged leader, Abdelkader Belliraj, had links with al-Qaida and local terror groups and was suspected in six assassinations in Belgium from 1986 to 1989. Belliraj, 50, has been held in isolation since.
Viewed in the West as a pillar of Muslim moderation, Morocco has nonetheless seen a rise of political and extremist Islam in recent years. Hundreds of suspected Islamic militants are behind bars in this North African country, a staunch ally of the United States and Europe.