A United Nations peacekeeping mission in disputed Western Sahara is still not fully functional, the U.N. Security Council president said on Tuesday, months after Morocco expelled dozens of civilian staff in anger at remarks by U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.
During a visit to refugee camps for Sahrawi people in March, Ban described Morocco’s 1975 annexation of Western Sahara as an “occupation,” sparking the worst dispute between Rabat and the world body since the U.N. brokered a ceasefire to end a war over the disputed region and established the U.N. mission MINURSO.
The cassation court on Wednesday ordered a retrial in a civilian court for the defendants who were jailed for between 20 years and life by a military court in 2013, Mohamed Sebbar, head of the National Human Rights Council, said. Morocco outlawed military trials for civilians in 2014.
Two lawyers confirmed the news, which comes as Morocco negotiates with the United Nations about the return of members of its Western Sahara mission expelled from the country after U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon described Morocco’s 1975 annexation of the territory as an “occupation”.