Defendants being tried for embezzlement, their properties seized
By Karima Rhanem 4/11/2005 | 2:11 pm GMT
Ten defendants in the Casablanca Ain Chock Islamic Charity House Scandal are being tried for embezzlement and forgery of administrative and trade documents. They are also being tried for preventing children from having adequate nutrition, leading their health to deteriorate.
The Casablanca judicial police said that Mohammed El Kassi, the House's director, his assistant, the treasurer and seven others are held in custody and will appear soon before judge Jamal Sarhan, who is specialist in embezzlement cases. Their properties, including that of their families (wives and children), and their bank accounts were seized.
Police reports revealed that the Charity House had benefited last year from MAD 10 million, a budget financed partly from a tax levied on slaughter houses' operations. The reports also revealed that the Ministry of Justice granted them MAD 800,000. The Charity House also got MAD 11 million from State budget last year.
Morocco Times got a copy of a Charity House document, which reveals the House 2002 revenues. What is surprising is that the document shows the House name as a corporation instead of an association. The revenues topped MAD 8.2 million.
During a surprising visit to the 'Charity House' last week, HM King Mohammed VI deplored the poor conditions of its 700 residents and ordered an investigation into the causes of the House deterioration, and to check the institution's accounts. The House residents were having a “piggy life.”
The House orphans felt relief when they saw HM King Mohammed VI. They decided, then, to tell him everything about their living conditions.
“Watama, watama” (there, there); they shouted pointing out to the piggy place where they were living. After the King's visit, these orphans no longer care who will visit them next. Their dream finally came true and the curtain was raised to unveil the violation practiced in the “outcast” House.
Moroccans were shocked in front of TV the “Animal Farm”, where these poor live. You cannot talk to someone these days without mentioning the Ain Chock scandal and the oppression and humiliation scenes they saw on TV.
“The prison is much cleaner than what we have seen. I call it a detention centre not an orphanage. This should be a respectable charity house. Unfortunately, there are many people in this country who have the pleasure of stealing public money, leading others in need to have a miserable life,” said Leila, a Moroccan citizen in her 30s.
“We are so happy to hear that the King came himself and saw these conditions and ordered those responsible for this catastrophe to be tried. Shame on these people,” she added with tears.
Leila's husband, Mohammed, who accompanied her to the Casa Port Railway station, joined the conversation.
“You know, the King should visit other orphanages and see where poor Moroccans live. I am sure that many charity houses are now scared of a sudden visit from the King, Allah Yinasrou” (May God protects Him).
The residents of the “Piggy House”, a word many Moroccans repeated while talking about the scandal, were looking with happiness and pride at the picture of the King on the wall of one of the House's rooms.
Teenage residents were chanting “May God protect the King who ordered these thieves to be tried”
One of the residents told Morocco Times that “they heard that the organization receives a lot of funds, but this money goes into the pockets of the director and his assistants.”
The House's residents told Morocco Times “nightmare stories” about the House's director, who turned their life into hell, and jailed their friends.
The residents accused Mohammed El Kassi of starving them, forcing them to go out to popular markets (Souks) to sell vegetables and cigarettes to make their living.
“The director and his assistants have stolen our dreams, dreams of having a decent life, a simple dream of being a human being,” murmured one of the residents.
Many of the residents managed to flee this inhuman life and immigrated clandestinely to Europe, mainly to Spain.
In one of the rooms of the House, pictures on the wall show residents who have escaped to Europe seeking a better life. The remaining teenagers told Morocco Times that they are still keeping in touch with their friends who fled to Europe.
Built in 1927, the Casablanca-based Ain Chock Islamic Charity House provides shelter for 700 children and teenagers. The monarch noted the "bad management of the institution and the calamitous consequences on the resident's living conditions and education.”
The institution, expected to provide care to children, lacks health services though it enjoys permanent financial resources notably from real-estate receipts, animal slaughtering taxes and well-wishers' donations and contributions.
After inquiring into the institution's services and management, the sovereign ordered the opening of an investigation to check the institution's accounts and to restructure its administration.
The King also gave his instructions to the state Secretariat General to work with concerned parties on amending the law governing charity associations, in order to prevent such cases and to ensure that associations hosting children, youngsters, women and old people do their humanitarian job properly.