Three men accused of murdering two Scandinavian hikers in the Atlas Mountains last year were sentenced to death, an anti-terrorist court in Morocco ruled Thursday.
Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway, and Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark, were found dead in December 2018 at their campsite in a remote part of the Atlas Mountains with wounds on their nape. The incident was classified by the Moroccan authorities as a terrorist attack after some of the men involved had committed themselves to the Islamic State.
The men were tried after an anti-terror law and were the main defendants in a case in which two dozen suspects were brought to trial over the deaths of women in the last year.
Twenty others were sentenced to between five and 30 years' imprisonment in the murders of two European tourists. Both women had studied in Norway to become tour guides. Their bodies were found in a location that is often the starting point for hikes to Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa.
Some of the men involved in the killings had recorded a video in which they had committed themselves to Islam State and the attackers had also released grisly videos about their murder in the social media.
In a grisly clip that was released shortly after the attack on social media, one of the victims was screaming to hear, while a man cut his throat a knife.
Hours before the ruling, some of the killers in a roomful of national and international news agencies and the families of the victims asked for God's mercy, but no one expressed regret according to local news. Others swore to be innocent. Last week, Helle Petersen, Ms. Jespersen's mother, called on the court to give the accused the death sentence for her role in the death of her daughter Agence France-Presse.
"The fairest way would be to give those beasts the death penalty they deserve, I beg you," she said in a letter read by her lawyer in court. "My life was destroyed when two policemen came to my door on December 17 to announce the death of my daughter."