A Moroccan appeals court has sentenced 12 Sudanese migrants to three years in prison for violence in the June 24 border tragedy that killed two dozen migrants, a rights group said on Friday.
About 2,000 people, many of whom were Sudanese, stormed the border on June 24 in an attempt to access Spanish territory in one of the EU’s two land borders with Africa.
Rights groups have accused Moroccan and Spanish security forces of reacting with excessive force, killing at least 23 migrants, the worst toll in years of such attempted crossings.
The AMDH human rights group said the 12 migrants would face three years in prison without parole after being prosecuted for “illegal entry into Moroccan soil” and “violence against law enforcement officials”.
“It is a very harsh and unexpected punishment, noting that he was initially sentenced to 11 months in prison,” said Omar Naji of AMDH in the border town of Nador.
The June 24 tragedy follows days of clashes between Moroccan security forces in a forest near Melilla, where migrants often spend months before attempting to cross a heavily fortified barrier.
The Nazi said that 12 had been arrested in a clash six days before the border incident.
Since the tragedy, Morocco has sentenced dozens of migrants to prison terms of up to two and a half years on charges related to illegal entry and criminal gangs.
The Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta have long been a magnet for people fleeing violence and poverty across Africa to seek refuge in Europe.