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Almost two months after the tragic events of Melilla, in North Africa, the only people who have been held accountable are the victims themselves. On Friday, June 24th, hundreds of people who were in Moroccan territory tried to cross the border to enter the Spanish city of Melilla, an enclave on the North African coast, and set foot on European soil. In the attempt, according to local NGO sources, a total of 37 migrants, many of them Sudanese, died. Despite the opacity imposed on the events by the Spanish and Moroccan governments, videos were quickly leaked online showing the North African country's authorities acting with extreme force against migrants. The images, showing dozens of bodies piled up, dying under the gaze of the officers, were chilling.

This Wednesday, the third court sentence was announced against some of the dozens of people who, in the attempt to cross the border, were intercepted by the Moroccan security forces and subsequently prosecuted by the Moroccan courts. In fact, up till now, the country's justice system has placed the migrants themselves in the spotlight as those most responsible for the events, even using the testimonies of police officers to incriminate them.

As reported by the Moroccan Human Rights Association based in the city of Nador, just a few kilometres from Melilla, a total of 13 migrants have been sentenced by the local Court of Appeal to two and a half years in prison for trying to climb over the border fence. In addition, they have been fined 10,000 dirhams (about 950 euros). "A very harsh sentence that shows how justice has been mobilized in service of migration policies against migrants who sought refuge," lamented AMDH. Defence lawyer Mbarek Buirek informed EFE that the thirteen were accused of "constitution of a criminal gang to organize clandestine migration, violence against public forces, disobedience and armed agglomeration", among other offences. Those convicted are part of a group of 28 accused, the rest of whom will know their sentence in a few weeks.

47 others already convicted

It is not the first sentence against the victims of that massacre. On August 4th, AMDH announced that 14 migrants had been sentenced to eight months in prison and fined 2,000 dirhams (190 euros), in what the NGO considered a "very harsh judgment against people who were only seeking refuge". In addition, the entity emphasized that there had been "contradictions revealed by the defence". And on July 19th, a "very severe sentence" put a total of 33 migrants in prison for 11 months.