A cousin of Morocco's King Mohammed dropped a court case against a newspaper that published a cartoon caricature of his wedding to a German woman, a lawyer in the case said Tuesday. Skip related content
Prince Moulay Ismael spared Akhbar Al Youm's editor Taoufiq Bouachrine and cartoonist Khalid Gueddar from paying a fine of more than 3 million dirhams (239,000 pounds) that was awarded to him by a court, lawyer Ali Kettani told state news agency MAP.
Press freedom campaigners had said the case was proof of a crackdown against journalists after 10 years of steady progress that made Morocco's press among the boldest in the Arab world.
The government said Gueddar's front-page cartoon was an attack on the monarchy and contained a Star of David that showed blatant anti-Semitism and insulted Morocco's national flag.
It shut the newspaper's offices and in October a court handed Bouachrine and Gueddar three-year suspended prison terms and fines for showing a lack of respect for the prince.
Bouachrine insisted the cartoon was a display of affection for the prince and said his trial was part of an "ongoing massacre of press freedom."
An appeal court Tuesday upheld the judgement by the court of first instance but Kettani then said the prince decided to drop the case after the two journalists apologised, MAP reported.
It did not say if the prince also spared Bouachrine and Gueddar a separate court judgement in which they were handed further one-year prison terms and fines of 100,000 dirhams.
The government says recent trials have nothing to do with freedom of expression but are simply a natural response to bad journalism and slander. Press freedom activists say the progress of the last 10 years is under threat.
(Reporting by Tom Pfeiffer)
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