11 sentenced over death of Moroccan fish seller

Sunday 23/04/2017
People stand outside the Moroccan parliament building in Rabat, Morocco, Sunday Nov. 6, 2016, to mark a week after the death of fish vendor Mouhcine Fikri, who was crushed in a garbage truck.(AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)

A Moroccan court has sentenced seven people to between five and eight months in prison over the death of a fish seller crushed in a rubbish truck.

Mouhcine Fikri, 31, was killed on October 28 as he protested against the authorities' seizure and destruction of his swordfish, which had been caught out of season.

His death in the northern port of Al-Hoceima sparked nationwide protests.

The Criminal Chamber of Al-Hoceima handed down the sentences Wednesday after a manslaughter trial of 11 people including officials from the fisheries authority and the interior ministry along with employees of the cleaning company, the local prosecutor said.

In a statement carried by the official MAP news agency, the prosecutor said those sentenced to prison also faced fines of $55 (50 euros) and that the other four suspects were acquitted.

The Public Prosecutor's Office appealed against the judgment, which was handed down after a trial of just two days. The victim's parents were granted an unspecified amount of compensation.

Mobile phone footage of Fikri's death sparked a wave of protests across Morocco.

Demonstrations have continued to rock Al-Hoceima province, with activists demanding jobs, denouncing corruption and asserting the Berber identity of the Rif region.

Several local officials including the provincial governor were dismissed at the end of March.

Interior minister Abdelouafi Laftit, appointed as part of a new government in early April, visited the town shortly afterwards to try to calm what a local weekly magazine called a "social earthquake."

Local media outlets have warned of a growing separatist movement in the Rif, a traditionally rebellious region long excluded from development projects under previous King Hassan II.