Casablanca (Morocco) (AFP)

Moroccan journalists Omar Radi and Soulaimane Raissouni, in preventive detention for eight and ten months awaiting trial, have started a hunger strike to demand their provisional release, their lawyers announced on Monday.

Moroccan justice has repeatedly refused the provisional release of the two journalists, prosecuted in separate cases but both linked, according to their supporters, to their critical publications.

For their part, the Moroccan authorities always emphasize the independence of the judiciary and the conformity of procedures.

Soulaimane Raissouni began a "protest fast" Thursday, followed the next day by Omar Radi, said Miloud Kandil during a press conference in Casablanca.

The two men are asking for "provisional release, since they meet the conditions to enjoy it" and they "wish to have a fair trial", he said.

Mr. Radi, 34, known for his commitment to human rights, is being prosecuted in a double case of "rape" and espionage.

His trial was postponed to April 27 in a brief hearing in early April.

Mr. Raissouni, 48, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Akhbar Al-Yaoum - which ceased publication in mid-March for financial reasons - is being prosecuted for "indecent assault with violence" and "confinement", after a complaint filed by an activist of the LGBT cause.

His trial was scheduled to start on February 9, but he was twice expelled.

The next hearing is set for April 15.

The prison administration said in a statement that it had tried to dissuade him from going on a hunger strike "because of the serious consequences of this decision on his state of health".

Faced with his refusal, he "was placed under medical supervision", according to this press release.

Franco-Moroccan historian Maâti Monjib, in preventive detention as part of an investigation for "money laundering", was released on bail at the end of March after three months of preventive detention and nineteen days of hunger strike .

This 60-year-old human rights activist was sentenced to one year in prison on January 27 for "fraud" and "endangering state security" after a trial opened in 2015, repeatedly postponed and concluded without his lawyers being able to plead.

His appeal trial opened on April 8 but was postponed until June 10.

© 2021 AFP