Morocco court condemns 3 to death for killing Scandinavian hikers

Salé: A Moroccan court on Thursday condemned three IS group supporters to death for the murder of two Scandinavian women beheaded while on a hiking trip in the High Atlas mountains.
Suspected ringleader Abdessamad Ejjoud and two companions received the maximum penalty over the December killings of Danish tourist Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland.
The anti-terrorist court in Sale, near the capital Rabat, issued the verdict following an 11-week trial in a case that has shocked the North African country.
The three admitted to killing the women and said they had been IS supporters, although the group itself has never claimed responsibility for the murders.
Ejjoud, a 25-year-old street vendor and underground imam, had confessed at a previous hearing to beheading one of the women.
Younes Ouaziyad, a 27-year-old carpenter, confessed to the other murder, while Rachid Afatti, 33, had videoed the murders on his mobile phone. Prosecutors had called for the death penalty despite Morocco having a de facto freeze on executions since 1993.
“We expect sentences that match the cruelty of the crime,” lawyer Khaled El Fataoui, speaking for the family of Jespersen, said. Helle Petersen, her mother, in a letter read out in court last week, said: “The most just thing would be to give these beasts the death penalty they deserve.”
The prosecution labelled all three “bloodthirsty monsters”, pointing out that an autopsy report had found 23 injuries on Jespersen’s decapitated body and seven on that of Ueland. — AFP