[JURIST] The head of the independent Human Rights Moroccan Center announced plans Monday to appeal a Moroccan court's conviction [JURIST report] of three former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees accused of involvement in terrorism. Khaled al Charkaoui expressed surprise at last week's convictions of Mohamed Slimani, Najib Houssani and Mohamed Ouali, who spent over four years in US custody at Guantanamo. Slimani was sentenced to five years in prison for creating and participating in a "criminal gang, practice of activities in a non-recognized association and organization of un-authorized public meetings," while Houssani and Ouali each received three-year sentences for falsifying administrative documents. Moroccan authorities acknowledged in February that the United States had transferred the three to Moroccan custody [US DOD press release].
The charges were not related to the men's detention at Guantanamo but rather to their connections with the group Salafia Jihadia [MIPT backgrounder], an offshoot of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group [MIPT backgrounder]. Both organizations are allegedly linked with al Qaeda and believed to be responsible for the May 2003 Casablanca suicide bombings [BBC report] that killed 45 people, including the 12 bombers. Reuters has more.