El Aaiún, 14 February 2014
Mohamed Lamin Haidala is a Saharawi. Born in 1994, he lived with his mother in the home of his grandparents in El Aaiún, in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. He died on 8 February 2015, a week after being attacked by 5 Moroccans and then held injured in police custody at the Moroccan police prefecture in occupied El Aaiún.
His family is now under Moroccan police surveillance and forbidden to receive the visit of journalists. Those who tried to visit the family, on the evening of February 12, were greeted by stone throwing and beaten with batons and had to flee.
According to several witnesses, on the evening of 30 January, Raja Haddi, aged 21, Mohamed Lamin’s aunt was sexually harassed on the street by Abdelwahab Kakaoui. This one was accompanied by another young Moroccan, Belaid Oumka Benomar. Mohamed Lamin, who was next to the house, intervened to request the first one to stop and to respect his aunt.
Both Moroccans attacked him joined by three others (including Bouca’aib Dinar), i.e. 5 against 1. One of them was armed with a sharp instrument. The police intervened and while Mohamed Lamin was on the ground, handcuffed and bleeding, the police accepted to talk to the father of the Moroccan attackers who negotiated the freedom of his sons.
Approximately one hour after the fight, the police took Mohamed Lamin in an ambulance to Hassan Ben Mehdi hospital, where his external and visible injuries were sutured on the neck, on the skull and on the forearm. The findings form of Doctor El Hachimi Naoufal is dated 31 January.
The young Moroccan aggressors were not taken to the police prefecture. Some witnesses asserted that they were not injured, but other sources say that they were prescribed 21 days of absence from work by a doctor. These documents are not available to Saharawi Human Rights Campaigners. The Moroccans went freely to the police prefecture to be interrogated there for a couple of hours before returning home.
Despite his complaints of pain and his weakness, Mohamed Lamin was quickly taken from the hospital to the police prefecture. There, according to what he said to his parents, he was brutally interrogated and left without any other medical care.
He was held in custody during which he was taken by the police to the hospital on 1 February. The findings form indicates a crisis of hysteria, probably meaning cries of distress. On 2 February, the same emergency doctor received him again under police escort, without stating any specific medical care in the findings form. The medical prescriptions prescribed antibiotics.
On the same day, the court issued a summons to appear on 5 February for Mohamed Lamin Haidala, Belaid Oumka Benomar and Abdelwahab Kakaoui. The elements set out were as follows: drunkenness and violence, unlawful entry to the home and arm injuries.
At the end of the 72 hours custody, on 3 February, the police took Mohamed Lamin to the hospital. He was having difficulty in breathing and was losing consciousness regularly.
On 4 February, Doctor Karima Dhargal of the otorhinolaryngology and cervicofacial surgery department, who had prescribed antibiotics and a painkiller the day before, signed a medical evacuation document to Marrakech, transfer in presence of a resuscitator anaesthetist for care in a case of dire emergency in thoracic surgery for a pneumodiastinum and a very important respiratory distress.
Marrakech is located some 870 km, and being aware of the quality of medical care in public hospitals in Morocco and of the discrimination reserved for Saharawi citizens, his family decided to take Med Lamin to Agadir. He arrived at Hassan 2 public hospital accompanied by his father and his uncle on February 4. Med Lamin was placed on mechanical ventilator support. In the absence of any further care and owing to the passivity of the healthcare providers, his father and his uncle tried on 6 February to take Med Lamin, then not conscious, to a private clinic. After the refusal of treatment of Med Lamin by the social security clinic and the Tilila clinic, Med Lamin was brought to the public hospital.
His family informed of the death of Med Lamin on the morning of February 8. At any time the surgery recommended by the doctor in El Aaiún has been tried.
His parents request to know the cause of death and also that an autopsy be conducted. They did not obtain any document as a response to any of their requests. It seems that some Saharawi citizens instructed by the Moroccan authorities contacted the caregivers in order to minimize all information given to the family.
On February 8, at the end of the day, the Moroccan police arrested and put in prison the two Moroccans Belaid Oumka Benomar and Abdelwahab Kakaoui, for the reasons stated in the summons dated February 5. No reference is made to homicide.
Upset and revolted, the family organised a demonstration the next day, 9 February, The police intervened brutally. 4 girls of the family, a young man and Ali Saadouni, a member of the group that rejects the Moroccan nationality, were injured.
On 10 February, at 7:00 p.m., Ali Saadouni was kidnapped by the police near the “Supratours” bus station, Om Sa’ad square. In the usual way of the occupying police, he was driven out of the city, beaten up, intimidated, insulted, particularly beaten on his head and face. The police forbid him from participating in demonstrations held in solidarity with Med Lamin’s family, from going to Moulay Ismel Avenue and from saying to EM that he had been tortured. Only at 8:30 p.m., he was found in the desert by his friends who were looking for him and who took him to the hospital.
Despite the police intimidation and violence, on 12 February, Tekber Haddi, Mohamed Lamin’s mother lodged a complaint with the Prosecutor of the Moroccan king against 3 Moroccans for having attacked her son, against the emergency Doctor El Hachimi Naoufal in Ben Mehdi hospital for medical malpractice and complicity with the police. She demands that the autopsy results and all certificates, diagnostic imaging and medical reports concerning her son be provided to her, as well as all inquiry documents generated by the police.
In El Aaiún, the police forces showed themselves ostensibly, above all near Saharawi neighbourhoods, but the demonstrations in support of the family continued on 11 February on Mézuar Street and on 12 and 13 February in Maatala neighbourhood. It is mainly women who mobilize.
Med Lamin’s body is still in the hospital in Agadir; the family refuses the burial until adequate assurance has been provided that an impartial inquiry/investigation is carried out and until all documents required by his mother are sent to her.
Previously, and not only to remind the implication of the Moroccan authorities in the murder of young Saharawis outside the prison, on 24 December 2010, Said Dembar was executed by the Moroccan police under still unclear circumstances. Similarly, the family refused the burial until the police and the Justice did not do their work and punished all perpetrators. Said’s body has been buried on June 4, 2002, by the Moroccan authorities in the absence of the parents, who still demand the results of the inquiry and of the autopsy. One only police officer has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murder of Said.
Sources: medical documents, court summons and justice complaint, family, witnesses, participants in events, journalists