Rabat  – Rabat’s Court of First Instance sentenced Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni to one year in prison on Monday, September 30.Moroccan police arrested Raissouni and her fiance on August 31 for “illegal abortion and premarital sexual relations.”The court also sentenced Raissouni’s fiance to one year in prison for participating in “illegal abortion and premarital sexual relations.” The doctor who allegedly conducted the abortion for Raissouni received a sentence of two years in prison. The court announced the verdict nearly one month after the trial was set to begin. The court frequently postponed sessions for more evidence and defense preparation requests.Myriam Moulay Rachid, the lawyer of the convicted doctor, Jamal Belkeziz, presented evidence during the trial’s last hearing on Monday, September 22, that her client did not perform the abortion.She claimed that at the time of examination, a blood test on Raissouni showed a level of 13,585.9 milli-international units per milliliter (mIU-mL) for the “pregnancy hormone” Beta HCG, a level below the threshold of 30,000 mIU-mL that confirms pregnancy. The lawyer argued that the HGG level was “unavoidable proof that acquits all the alleged culprits of abortion in this case.”On September 5, the public prosecutor of the Rabat Court of First Instance issued a statement on Raissouni’s arrest, emphasizing that the journalist was arrested for nothing other than an illegal abortion.He announced that the police arrested Raissouni at the entrance of a building they were monitoring.The prosecutor said that they suspected the clinic of conducting illegal abortion in the building. Raissouni’s case stirred public debate about the lack of individualism.Feminists and activists signed a manifesto, initiated by prominent Moroccans Leila Slimani and Sonia Terrab, to criticize Morocco’s laws criminalizing sexual relations and abortion.International NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, also condemned the arrest, calling for the immediate release of Raissouni.The 28-year-old journalist writes for the Arabic-language daily Akhbar Al Yaoum. Moroccan law criminalizes both sex outside marriage and abortion in cases where imminent danger to the mother’s life cannot be proven.It remains to be seen whether Raissouni will appeal the court’s verdict. read more