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Royal pardon for Moroccan journalist jailed for abortion

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Rabat (AFP)

Morocco's King Mohammed VI on Wednesday issued a royal pardon for journalist Hajar Raissouni, overturning a prison sentence for an "illegal abortion" and sexual relations outside marriage, the justice ministry said.

The 28-year-old will walk free "in the coming hours", while sentences handed down to her Sudanese fiance, gynaecologist, anaesthetist and a medical assistant were also overturned, an official told AFP.

The case, which saw Rassiouni and the others sentenced on September 30, had provoked a storm of protest from rights groups.

The ministry statement said the pardon came as the monarch wanted to help "preserve the future of the couple, who wanted to establish a family in line with our religious and legal precepts, despite the error they made".

The journalist works for Arabic-language newspaper Akhbar Al-Yaoum, which has a history of run-ins with the authorities.

Raissouni was arrested on August 31 as she left a clinic in Rabat. In court, she denied having had an abortion, saying she had been treated for internal bleeding -- testimony backed up by her gynaecologist.

The journalist denounced the affair as a "political trial", saying she had been questioned by police about her family and her own writing.

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