Mohamed Bani was born in El Aaiun, the capital of occupied Western Sahara, in 1969. Married and father of five children, Bani was one of the few Saharawi lucky enough to have found employment in a system which tends to prefer Moroccan settlers over Saharawis. Bani worked at the Ministry of Infrastructure.
Mr. Bani was not a part of the protest camp Gdeim Izik, but had a lot of relatives at the camp site. He visited his family on Sunday the 7th of November, and was stopped when trying to leave. On the 8th of November, when trying to leave, the police arrested him, accusing him of running over an officer.
He had visited his family on Sunday 7 November, the day before the camp would be burned to the ground. When he tried to leave in the evening, he was stopped by the Moroccan police and army, who had sealed off the camp site's surroundings. When Mohamed tried to leave again next morning, the police arrested him, accusing him of having run over officers.
Bani was subjected to physical and psychological torture in detention; after having suffered a severe head injury caused by excessive beating, he spent six days without any form of medical assistance, yet blindfolded, handcuffed, deprived of sleep and food, and he had urine poured on him. The wounds haven't healed and Mohamed continues to have problems resulting from the head injury to this very day.
Bani was on the 19th of July 2017 sentenced to life imprisonment by the Court of Appeal in Salé. The prosecutor provoked new witnesses during the proceedings conducted at the Court of Appeal, and witnesses that lacked the necessary credibility and without a legal identification process, described how Bani had attacked the military forces with his car. Bani on the other hand urged that he on the morning of the 8th of November was on his way back to the city to drive his children to school, and that his car had been hit by rocks, and that he lost consciousness when he was hit in the head with a rock. Bani urges that he did not attack the military forces with his car, and that he was overthrown when his car was hit with rocks. Bani was condemned for the forming of a criminal organization and for murder with intent to kill; the main evidence against him was the police records and witnesses that surfaced seven years after the incident.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
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