Moroccan man sentenced to death for killing, dismembering Jewish couple

JTA

(JTA) — A court in Morocco sentenced to death a gardener who was convicted of murdering a Jewish couple last year in Casablanca.

The criminal tribunal of the Court of First Instance of the coastal city sentenced Mustapha Rerhay, 51, to death on Monday, the Le 360 news site reported, for the killing of Sam Toledano and Vicky Chetrit, a high-profile couple in the Jewish community for whom the killer had worked.

Rerhay dismembered the couple’s bodies and disposed of the parts in various places in Casablanca. He stole jewelry and other possessions from their home in what police insisted was a financially-motivated crime that featured no nationalistic characteristics resembling a hate crime.

Police arrived at the couple’s home after members of their community reported their disappearance, the paper said. The detectives used ultraviolet lamps that showed traces of blood at their home, which had been swiped clean of other evidence.

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But the news site Diaspora Saharaui, which is critical of the government of Morocco over its occupation of Western Sahara, suggested in its reporting that the police version does not explain the mutilation of the bodies.

“Moroccan authorities tried to present the crime as motivated by greed, but a simple thief would not have mutilated the bodies and dispersed their parts across the city,” the report said, citing the rarity of cases involving mutilation in Morocco.

Noting the couple’s high profile within the Jewish community, the news site urged Moroccan police to examine alternative motives for the crimes.

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