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France to award Moroccan spy chief Legion of Honour despite torture accusations

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (R) with Moorocco's Mohamed Hassad on Saturday
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (R) with Moorocco's Mohamed Hassad on Saturday AFP

France is awarding its highest award the Legion of Honour, to the head of Morocco’s secret services, Abdellatif Hammouchi, who will receive the distinction despite facing lawsuits here over alleged torture.

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French judicial authorities had tried to question Hammouchi a year ago about the allegations while he was visiting Paris, a move that prompted Morocco to suspend legal ties with France.

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They were only resumed this month after a freeze that last nearly a year.

Moroccan and international human rights organisations have accused Morocco’s domestic intelligence, the DGST, of torturing activists and terrorism suspects.

But French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in the Moroccan capital of Rabat on Saturday that France was trying to show its respect to Hammouchi by awarding him the Legion of Honour.

Mohamed Jaite, the general secretary of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights in Paris, said this designation would encourage the continued use of torture.

“There were victims who filed charges against Hammouchi for having played a personal role in torturing them,” he told RFI. “From the point of view of the victims, I think it is scandalous. It's also an encouragement for the Moroccan authorities to commit torture and do what ever it takes to achieve their means in conjunction with the French government.”

Cazeneuve on Saturday praised Morocco’s “efficiency” and “expertise” in the “exchange of intelligence”, describing the kingdom as a “key partner” to France.

The DGST plays a “decisive role in cooperation against terrorism”, he said at a joint press conference with his Moroccan counterpart Mohamed Hassad.
 

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