Last Updated: Sun Jul 15, 2012 16:05 pm (KSA) 13:05 pm (GMT)

Morocco’s ‘luxury prisons’ stir controversy

There is a great controversy between the terrible state of prisons in which Islamists are detained and the five star cells that house VIPs in Morocco. (AFP)
There is a great controversy between the terrible state of prisons in which Islamists are detained and the five star cells that house VIPs in Morocco. (AFP)

The luxury in which former officials are serving jail sentences or detained pending trial is stirring a lot of controversy in Morocco especially with other prisoners complaining of their deplorable conditions.

The Joint Committee for the Defense of Islamist Detainees highlighted in a press conference the wide gap between the terrible state of prisons in which Islamists are detained and the “five star” cells that house “VIPs.”

According to Mohamed Mazouz, a former detainee at Sala prison in northern Morocco, the jail was divided in two parts: one for Islamist or regular detainees like him and another for public figures.

“Former governor of Casablanca Abdul Aziz Afoura was given a big room, a cell phone, and was treated in the best way even though he was jailed for squandering state money,” he said.

Prisoners’ rights activist Mehtat ben Salem said that the prisoners are placed in certain facilities or in certain parts of a facility based on their social status outside the prison.

“The prison now is becoming like society outside, where you have classes,” he told Al Arabiya. “Prisoners who belong to poorer classes are separated from rich ones who are usually drug lords or corrupt officials.”

Ben Salem added that the VIP parts of the prison are commonly known as the “Abu Dhabi suites” because of how luxurious they are, while the others are called “regular.”

Among former officials known for getting VIP treatment in jail is Khaled Eleiwa, former chairman of the Credit Immobilier et Hotelier Bank (The Real Estate and Hotels Credit Bank), who is staying in one of the spacious rooms of the Okacha prison in Casablanca.

Eleiwa is detained pending trial in the case where he is charged with corruption and squandering public funds.

Tawik al-Ibrahimi, the former general manager of Comanav Voyages, is staying in a luxurious cell in Sala prison and has newspapers delivered to his door.

The same applies to Abdul Haneen Benalo, former general manager of the Office National Des Aéroports (The National Airports Office).

Fashion designer Souad al-Ghernati is also detained pending trial in a luxurious prison room where she is awaiting the verdict in the case where she is charged with stealing jewelry from the wife of Russian ambassador in Morocco.

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