The prosecution of the court of first instance in the Moroccan city of Nador (north), bordering Melilla, charged 37 migrants with “illegal entry on Moroccan soil”, “violence against law enforcement officers”, “armed crowd” and “refusal to comply,” their lawyer, Khalid Ameza, told AFP.
A second group, made up of 28 migrants, will also be tried for “participation in a criminal gang to organize and facilitate illegal immigration abroad”, added Me Ameza.
The lawyer specified that the majority of the defendants were from Darfur, in western Sudan, in the grip of a serious food crisis and where recent violence has left more than 125 dead and caused the displacement of 50,000 people.
Others are Chadians and Malians, one is Yemeni.
The defense requested conditional release for all of the defendants but the prosecution rejected this request “given the seriousness of the facts with which they are charged”, explained the lawyer.
They were among nearly 2,000 migrants who tried to force their way into the Spanish autonomous city of Melilla, located in Moroccan territory, on Friday morning.
At least 23 irregular migrants died and 140 police officers were injured, according to Moroccan local authorities.
The Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) reported the death of 27 illegal immigrants.
This is the deadliest toll ever recorded during the many attempts by sub-Saharan migrants to enter Melilla and the neighboring Spanish enclave of Ceuta, which constitute the EU’s only land borders with the African continent.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, around fifty organizations for the defense of migrants, including the AMDH and the Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras, demanded the opening of an “immediate” investigation.
The National Human Rights Council (CNDH), an official Moroccan body, announced on Monday the creation of an “information mission” on the “tragic and violent events” caused by the attempted assault on the fence separating the city of Nador from the enclave of Melilla.
The Moroccan authorities assure that the deceased migrants died “in jostling and falling from the iron fence” during “an assault marked by the use of very violent methods on the part of the migrants”.
The head of the Commission of the African Union (AU), the Chadian Moussa Faki Mahamat, denounced Sunday evening “the violent and degrading treatment of African migrants”.
A closed meeting of the UN Security Council is scheduled for Wednesday on this tragedy.
African ambassadors accredited to Morocco were received on Sunday by officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior in Rabat.