In April 2009, two Swedish fishermen were charged in a Swedish court of having operated off the coasts of Western Sahara without general fishing permissions from Sweden, as well as carrying out fisheries operating outside of the scope of the EU fisheries partnerships. One of the vessels was boarded by Greenpeace activists in 2008 (photo above).
The prosecutor in the Gothenburg court has now announced that the trial will take place on 24 October 2012, according to the Swedish magazine Västsahara.
The two fishing companies involved, Fiskeri AB Ganthi and Fiskeri AB Nordic, are accused for illegal fisheries from April 2007 to May 2008. Their two fishing vessels, Aldo and Nordic IV respectively, were working in cooperation, and were managed by the accused and their relatives. It is estimated that the income from the fisheries amounted to 20 million Swedish kroners (2.3 million euros) during the 14 months period – after salaries and licences have been deducted.
That date of the trial is, ironically, the same date as the trial of the year against Saharawi political prisoners in Rabat. Among the Saharawis who will be put before court, after having waiting for 2 years, is Sidahmed Lemjiyed, the secretary-general of the network CSPRON, that works for the protection of natural resources in Western Sahara.
The trial has been postponed numerous times. The reasons for the postponement is, according to Västsahara, that the accused has presented several complaints on the formalities of the legal process. After being tried in the High Court in Gothenburg, the case was referred to the Court of First Instance.
“The only way [it would be postponed again] would be if it is impossible to get in touch with the accused”, stated prosecutor in the case to Västsahara.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
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