Morocco Arrests 12 Suspects over Gang Rape
Moroccan police have arrested 12 people over the alleged gang-rape of a teenage girl, a court official said, in a case that has sparked outrage in the North African kingdom.
In a video posted online last week, Khadija Okkarou, 17, said members of a "dangerous gang" had kidnapped and held her for two months, raping and torturing her.
In the video, she showed what appeared to be scars from cigarette burns and tattoos carved into parts of her body.
"I will never forgive them. They have destroyed me," she said.
Her testimony triggered a social media campaign under the "we are all Khadija" hashtag, along with a petition signed by thousands of people urging King Mohammed VI to provide her with medical and psychological care.
A judge in the central city of Beni Mellal is investigating the suspects, all aged between 18 and 27, the court official said.
The main suspect, aged 20, is being held on suspicion of rape, torture, kidnapping, making death threats and forming a gang, the official said.
Ten others potentially face similar charges, while a 12th is under investigation for failing to report a crime and failing to help a person in danger.
Okkarou "is still in shock even if she tries to be strong," said Loubna El Joud of women's rights group NSAT, which is providing her with medical and psychological support.
"Her hands shake when she speaks."
Rape victims in Morocco are often subject to a double trauma as the conservative society blames them for their ordeal.
In recent days, relatives of the suspects quoted in the Moroccan press have accused Okkarou of lying, saying she lived a "depraved" lifestyle.