Sex, lies and videotape

Rkia Abouali, the woman who spectacularly exposed corruption among Morocco's judiciary in 2006, left jail this week after being acquitted of what she says were trumped up charges of prostitution, drugs trafficking and manslaughter.

BEIRUT/RABAT, April 8, 2008 (MENASSAT) – It was the biggest scandal to hit Morocco's judiciary when the story broke in 2006. That was when Rkia Abouali, a 35-year-old woman from the Atlas mountains, sent a CD to the media allegedly containing video she had filmed of sexual acts with a highly-placed judge in which he admitted, among many other things, to accepting bribes in exchange for favorable verdicts.

The affair kept the Moroccan press occupied for most of 2007, and made Rkia Abouali a genuine media star. Earlier this week, Abouali was released by a court in Meknès after spending a year in jail on a charge of manslaughter.

The early tapes

Rkia's story, as she tells it, started in 2000 when an officer in the gendarmerie of Lakbab, a small village near Tighasaline in the Atlas mountains, started making sexual advances to her. Rkia, a divorced mother of two, turned him down flat.

The frustrated gendarme allegedly took his revenge on her by having Rkia and her brother arrested on drugs and prostitution charges. Rkhia went to jail for four months.

Upon her release, Rkhia in turn sought her revenge. She contacted the gendarme and, using his desire for her, managed to get him to confess on tape that he had indeed framed her as punishment for her refusal of his sexual advances. When the gendarme heard about the tapes, he was furious and demanded Rkia hand over the tapes.

Rkia refused and found herself facing trial once again on charges of drugs trafficking and prostitution.

This is where one story ends and other one begins.

From gendarme to judge

Although the court initially refused to take Rkhia's tapes into evidence, the judge suddenly cleared the family of all charges and transferred the gendarme to another part of the country.

Judge: "Is it through that you are involved in corruption?"

Rkia: "No, but in the case of someone like you, how could I refuse?"

The next thing she knew, Rkia was free to go. Upon leaving the prison she was met by the judge who offered to take her for "a ride" in his car which ended in a hotel room in Meknès.

Rkia subsequently became the judge's lover for the next three years, meeting with him four days a week in an apartment in Meknès. According to Rkia, the judge was an insatiable lover, sometimes making love to her as many as four times a day.

For a while things went well. The judge arranged to take Rkia as his second wife, allowed her to keep her two sons at the apartment, and even hired a nanny for her.

Lies about marriage

But then Rkia found out that the judge had lied about the marriage and had in fact never registered her as his second wife. Furthermore, the judge's constant demands of sex had resulted in two unwanted pregnancies which the judge forced her to terminate.

Scorned once more, Rkia fell back on a method of vengeance she was accustomed to; she decided to tape the judge having sex with her.

Using the judge's own video camera, Rkia proceeded him to film herself with the judge in the shower and in the bed making love.

She got him to say on the tape that he had indeed set her free because he was attracted to her, and that he had forced her to abortion twice.

It didn't end there. Allegedly, the judge also talked in great detail about receiving bribes from defendants in his court in return for favorable verdicts. He also talked about the involvement of other magistrates.

The mafia gets involved

In 2003, having gathered sufficient evidence, Rkia returned to her mother's village. According to local media, she proceeded to live a life of leisure, using the CD as protection against her former lover. In 2004, she got engaged to a colonel in the Moroccan army.

Then, still according to local media reports, a local mafia heard about the existence of Rkia's footage and – wanting to use it for leverage with the local justice system – kidnapped her brother in order to get her to give up the CD.

The plan was foiled by police but instead of arresting the kidnappers two of Rkia's brothers were put in prison.

Again, Rkhia swore revenge. She got it in 2006 when she sent the CD to the popular newspaper Al-Massae.

The judge defended himself by saying, "I asked for Rkia's hand in marriage from her mother in 2001. But I changed my mind later because of her abuse, including blackmailing and pressuring me to rule in her favor in some cases, while threatening me of defamation in the media with a videotape."

An old murder

The judge was moved several times before being suspended.

But Rkia's troubles weren't over. In March 2007, she and her brothers were again arrested after an anonymous letter accused them of a murder committed in 2004 in Zaouiat Cheikh. Additional charges were filed, ranging from prostitution to drug trafficking.

For a whole year, the Moroccan and international media was concerned with Rkia's case. Human rights organizations hurried to Rkia's defense, demanding a thorough investigation and the prosecution of all those who abused their powers in her case.

After her acquittal, Rkia said she is ready to be judged for her mistakes but not for crimes she didn't commit. She considered she was charged just for revenge and to stop her from exposing high profile officials she accused of corruption, encouraging prostitution and receiving bribes.