Morocco 'detains' employees of French tycoon accused in sex case

Morocco 'detains' employees of French tycoon accused in sex case
Employees of French insurance tycoon Jacques Bouthier placed under arrest after an investigation into accusations of human trafficking and sexual harassment.
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A woman reacts during a press conference organised by the Moroccan Association for the Rights of Victims in Morocco in June 2022. The woman accused Jacques Bouthier of sexual harassment and intimidation. [FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]

Several employees of French insurance tycoon Jacques Bouthier, under arrest in Paris on charges of raping a minor, have been placed in Moroccan custody, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said Friday.

The employees appeared before the public prosecutor in the northern city of Tangiers earlier this week and a judge placed "five of them under a committal order", while the sixth was released, lawyer Karima Salama told AFP.

Bouthier, 75 and one of France's richest men, is ex-CEO of insurance group Assu2000, later renamed Vilavi.

He was indicted on May 21 and arrested by Paris prosecutors after a preliminary investigation into accusations of people trafficking and rape of a minor.

A Frenchman and five Moroccan suspects including two women are accused of "having recruited and psychologically groomed" women, said Salama, of the Moroccan Association for the Rights of Victims (AMDV).

"They also justified (Bouthier's) conduct," she said.

Several young Moroccan women filed a complaint against Bouthier last month, accusing him of various acts of "people trafficking, sexual harassment and verbal and moral violence" between 2018 and this year, according to Salama.

The women said they had been sacked after refusing to "give in to harassment and blackmail" over their employment by Bouthier and other French and Moroccan executives.

Such public declarations are rare in Morocco, where sexual abuse victims often face social stigma.

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AMDV appealed on Friday for any other victims to "break the wall of fear and actively be part of the fight against impunity for people who have gravely harmed their dignity as women".

Bouthier is also being prosecuted in France for conspiracy to kidnap, kidnapping in an organised gang and possession of child pornography.