The biggest trial in the history of Morocco began in Rabat, April 11. 24 Moroccan merchants are charged with selling a mixture of aircraft fuel and cooking oil, leading to the paralysis of 9,067 people.
GV EXT..of Rabat courthouse
SCU Prisoners in box
CU Prisoner weeps
STV Prisoners seated
LV Crowded courtroom
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Background: The biggest trial in the history of Morocco began in Rabat, April 11. 24 Moroccan merchants are charged with selling a mixture of aircraft fuel and cooking oil, leading to the paralysis of 9,067 people. At least four of the accused face the death penalty if found guilty.
Before doctors succeeded in tracking down the cause last September, the adulterated oil had caused thousands of cases of paralysis, six hundred of them incurable. The affair caused a national scandal which led to an appeal by the Moroccan Government to the International Red Cross for help in treating the helpless victims.
Surplus American Air Force jet-engine cleaning oil was mixed with lesser quantities of olive oil and sold to unsuspecting Moroccan housewives. The engine oil - clearly marked by the US authorities as unfit for human consumption - was sold at auction in Rabat.
All the men are accused under a year-old law covering crimes against the national health. This was promulgated after the discovery of the mass poisonings. King Mohammed has personally called for the death penalty for all convicted.
High Court President, Ibrahim Keddara, granted an opening-day defence request that medical experts be allowed to testify, and then postponed the trial until April 14 because of the Passover feast, since several of the 14 defence attorneys are Jews.