2 inmates speak of life in Morocco's prisons

"This is Omar Maarouf calling from Kenitra Central Prison," said the dejected voice on the other end of the line.

The bizarre phone call was the second in two days from a prisoner inside the high-walled Kenitra, one of Morocco's most notorious lockups. It holds several death row inmates like Maarouf, who the government links to violent Islamic groups.

Fellow prisoner Abdelkebir Goumarra, serving a life sentence at Kenitra, called a day earlier, also without notice.

More disturbing than receiving such calls was the idea that high security prisoners were able to use cell phones at one of the country's most restrictive prisons.

But Goumarra said the 80 high security prisoners at Kenitra mingle with other inmates, so he borrowed a cell phone. He got this reporter's number from his wife, who had been interviewed earlier.

Goumarra, a Moroccan, and Maarouf, who has dual Danish-Moroccan citizenship, are accused of belonging to Salafiya Jihadiya, the name used by the government for the Islamic group blamed for the May 2003 suicide bombings in Casablanca that killed 33 people. Up to 3,000 people were arrested after the blasts.

Maarouf was already in prison in connection with attacks carried out before the Casablanca blasts. He was sentenced to death three months after the Casablanca blasts. Islamic radicals are seeking to overthrow Morocco's monarchy and replace it with Islamic rule.

Goumarra, 36, surrendered to police four days after the bombings, after a warrant was issued and his picture appeared on television, reports the AP.


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