Saad Lamjarred, a star Moroccan singer, has been found guilty of raping a young woman in France and sentenced to six years in prison. The singer has so far not announced if he will appeal the case and faces three other separate rape cases in three other countries
Lamjarred, 37, showed no reaction after the verdict was announced by a court in Paris on February 24th, French media reported. He was immediately detained.
During a short trial, he denied raping the woman in a Paris hotel in 2016.
Lamjarred is famous in the Arab music world. His hit LM3ALLEM has been viewed more than one billion times on YouTube. He is also popular with other singers in the Middle East, one – a Lebanese – even doing a duet with him, while he faced the rape allegations.
When Lamjarred was arrested in 2016, the king of Morocco – who has awarded Lamjarred the country’s highest national honour – intervened to cover the singer’s legal fees.
Many of the singer’s fans alleged at the time that he was the victim of a “plot” by neighbouring Algeria, which has strained relations with Morocco.
And the first song he released after his arrest, which he dedicated to the king, showed just how popular he remained, gaining over 140m views.
It was not immediately clear if he planned to appeal against the verdict.
After seven hours of deliberation, the court said it was “convinced” of the rape, which it said was “described in a constant and precise manner” by victim Laura P since she had filed her complaint.
As a warrant of committal has been issued Lamjarred will be detained immediately.
When the judgement was announced in a court packed with fans and curious observers, a pale Lamjarred stood up but showed no reaction. Laura P hugged her mother for a long time, crying.
Laura P’s lawyers hailed a “remarkable decision which corresponds to reality”. One of Saad Lamjarred ‘s lawyers, Thierry Herzog, said they would “reflect” before “deciding what to do next” – to appeal or not.
Lamjarred was initially arrested in France in 2016 in connection with the case, but was released seven months later and placed under electronic surveillance. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI previously helped pay for the singer’s legal fees.
The singer is also due to be tried for rape in another court in southern France over allegations he raped a woman in Saint-Tropez. He has also been accused of rape in New York and Casablanca. Lamjarred has denied all the accusations.
Two days earlier, Laura P, a 27-year-old French woman, testified against Lamjarred before the Paris Assize Court, recounting “a nightmare evening” in 2016 when, she alleges, he raped her in the French capital.
In her testimony, published by AFP, Laura P told the court she was 20 years old when she met the now 37-year-old pop star in October 2016 in an upscale nightclub in Paris.
Around 6am, she and Lamjarred went alone to the singer’s room at the Marriott, Laura P told the court.
“We danced, listened to music, talked about everything and nothing,” she said.
“We kissed, and then suddenly, he pushed my head, which hit the ground.” The singer allegedly ordered her to remove her T-shirt, and she complied because she was “terrified”, she recounted in tears.
Laura P added that Lamjarred then beat and raped her, with two “vaginal and anal” penetrations, before she managed to push him away and escape the room to ask for help.
BBC/Middle East Eye/Agencies