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Case shows hurdles in fighting Morocco corruption

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Civil servants Abdelmajid Alouiz, right, and Mohammed Reda, pose for photographers, after their corruption trial for leaking government documents, Friday, March 21, 2014 in Rabat, Morocco. The Islamist party that dominated elections that year ran on an anti-corruption campaign and after taking office in June 2012, announced an investigation into leaked documents that allegedly showed that the former finance minister and the national treasurer authorized salary bonuses for each other. In Friday’s verdict on the case of the two former Finance Ministry employees, Abdelmajid Alouiz was found guilty and fined $250 with a two month suspended sentence while Mohammed Reda was acquitted on the charge of leaking government documents. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)

Civil servants Abdelmajid Alouiz, right, and Mohammed Reda, pose for photographers, after their corruption trial for leaking government documents, Friday, March 21, 2014 in Rabat, Morocco. The Islamist party that dominated elections that year ran on an anti-corruption campaign and after taking office in June 2012, announced an investigation into leaked documents that allegedly showed that the former finance minister and the national treasurer authorized salary bonuses for each other. In Friday’s verdict on the case of the two former Finance Ministry employees, Abdelmajid Alouiz was found guilty and fined $250 with a two month suspended sentence while Mohammed Reda was acquitted on the charge of leaking government documents. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)

People display a banner outside a courthouse in Rabat, Morocco, where a corruption trial took place against two civil servants for leaking government documents, Friday, March 21, 2014. The Islamist party that dominated elections that year ran on an anti-corruption campaign and after taking office in June 2012, announced an investigation into leaked documents that allegedly showed that the former finance minister and the national treasurer authorized salary bonuses for each other. In Friday’s verdict on the case of the two former Finance Ministry employees, Abdelmajid Alouiz was found guilty and fined $250 with a two month suspended sentence while Mohammed Reda was acquitted on the charge of leaking government documents. Banner reads in blue: Support Committee of Ingeners. In black: Open an inquiry into the disappearance of State assets. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)

Police officers guard the a courthouse in Rabat, Morocco, where a corruption trial took place against two civil servants for leaking government documents, Friday, March 21, 2014. The Islamist party that dominated elections that year ran on an anti-corruption campaign and after taking office in June 2012, announced an investigation into leaked documents that allegedly showed that the former finance minister and the national treasurer authorized salary bonuses for each other. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)

FILE – In this Sunday, Feb 20, 2011 file photo, pro-democracy protesters demonstrate in Rabat, Morocco, Â carrying a banner reading “the people want the fall of the corrupt.” The Islamist party that dominated elections in 2011 ran on an anti-corruption platform but two years later, despite its rhetoric, it has been business as usual for corruption in Morocco. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar, File)

FILE – In this Sunday March 27, 2011 file photo, pro-democracy protesters demonstrate in Casablanca, Morocco carrying a banner reading “the 20th February movement against corruption.” The Islamist party that dominated elections in 2011 ran on an anti-corruption platform but two years later, despite its rhetoric, it has been business as usual for corruption in Morocco. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar, File)

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RABAT, Morocco (AP) — When tens of thousands of Moroccans poured into the streets demanding change in 2011, they were particularly angry about the corruption pervasive at all levels of business and government.

The Islamist party that dominated elections that year ran on an anti-corruption campaign and after taking office in June 2012, announced an investigation into leaked documents that allegedly showed that the former finance minister and the national treasurer authorized salary bonuses for each other.

Two years later, however, the only case to come out of the whole affair is against two civil servants for leaking the documents. The original inquiry announced by Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid has never seen the light of day.

Despite the new government’s rhetoric, it has been business as usual for corruption in Morocco.

“It is typical of the impunity that characterizes corruption cases in our country,” said Abdessamd Saddouq, the secretary general of Transparency Maroc, which backs the two accused. “Not just because the justice system refuses to investigate the affair, but also that it then targets potential whistleblowers.”

In Friday’s verdict on the case of the two former Finance Ministry employees, Abdelmajid Alouiz was found guilty and fined $250 with a two month suspended sentence while Mohammed Reda was acquitted on the charge of leaking government documents.

“We reject this trial and are still demanding an inquiry into the affair of the bonuses,” said Abdelilah Benabdessalam, a member of the support committee for the two whistleblowers.

The original scandal over the bonuses involved the treasurer, Nourredine Bensouda, a former classmate of Morocco’s king, and Salaheddine Mezouar, the former finance minister who is now foreign minister in the coalition government.

Corruption is a serious problem in Morocco. It exists on a grand scale, with ministers accused of illegally buying apartments in Paris or an estimated $25 billion embezzlement scandal in the social security office that has been dragging through the courts for the past decade with no convictions.

It is also a day-to-day reality for Moroccans, whether it’s traffic cops shaking down drivers for imagined offenses, or the bribes paid at hospitals or in the halls of government offices to ensure prompt service.

Said Chekrouni, a contractor demonstrating outside the courthouse of the trial in support of the whistleblowers said he was hit up by bureaucrats for bribes so that he could get paid for the three marketplaces he built on a government contract.

“I filed complaints and there is an ongoing trial but now I’ve come under pressure to drop the matter,” he said.

According to Transparency International, more than two-thirds of Moroccans

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