The court of appeals in Morocco has increased prison sentences in a case of child rape following public outrage.

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The appeals court in Rabat, Morocco’s capital, handed down sentences to three men accused of raping a girl, now 12 years old. One man received a 20-year sentence, while the other two were sentenced to 10 years each.

The girl’s lawyers had appealed after the lower court had given lighter sentences. The appeals court also ordered the three men to pay higher damages of 140,000 Durhams instead of the original 50,000 Durhams. The court heard testimonies from the victim and a minor witness in private due to child protection concerns.

After the hearing, Abdelfattah Zachariah, a lawyer representing the victim, told AFP that they were “satisfied with the decision which delivered justice to the victim.”

However, he expressed confusion regarding why two of the accused had received only 10 years in prison and said that he was considering further appeals to the Court of Cessation after consulting with the victim’s family.

The accused were charged with “misappropriation of a minor” and “indecent assault on a minor with violence,” and the prosecution requested that “rape” be added to the charges. The request was rejected by the judge.

One of the men faced a DNA test during the trial, which proved that he was the father of a child born to the victim, who is now 13 months old.

When asked how this had occurred, he repeatedly responded, “I don’t know.” The case has caused an uproar in Morocco, with tens of thousands of people signing a petition condemning the sentences handed down on March 20.

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