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July 22, 2017

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Moroccan court upholds 1-year sentence for rapper

CASABLANCA, Morocco -- A Moroccan court upheld on Friday a one-year prison sentence for militant rap singer Mouad Belghouat, convicted of defaming the police.

Known as Al-Haqed (The Rancorous One), Belghouat, 24, was handed the sentence in May over a song he wrote called "Dogs of the State," which denounced police corruption and was deemed an affront to the entire police service.

During the trial, his defense team argued that the song was an artistic creation that should not draw punishment. Belghouat had aimed his criticism at just a part of the police and not everyone, lawyer Omar Benjelloun said, adding that freedom of speech was on trial.

The main evidence against the rapper was a YouTube video containing a photo-montage of a policeman whose head had been replaced by that of a donkey.

According to Human Rights Watch, Belghouat denied any connection with the video other than that it was set to his song.

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