Home Office to help prosecute Moroccan murder suspect

THE HOME OFFICE is to assist the Moroccan government in prosecuting a man accused of murdering a British woman. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

On Tuesday, a formal letter was delivered by the British embassy in Rabat, requesting the Moroccan government to bring a prosecution, and including some documentary evidence. Britain has no extradition treaty with Morocco, but officials there have already indicated their willingness to prosecute the man, Omar Errajraji. They also criticised the British authorities for the delay in providing documents.

Daphne Torok, 45, was found stabbed and strangled at her home in Aycliffe, County Durham, in June 1989. Mr Errajraji, her boyfriend, then aged 21, returned to Casablanca shortly afterwards. Since he used a different name in Britain, police did not identify him as a suspect until after he had left.

In December 1989, Mr Errajraji was arrested and questioned by the Moroccan authorities, who requested information from Britain to help with their investigation. Since none was forthcoming, Mr Errajraji was released to live with his parents.

The Home Office yesterday said the delay in meeting the Moroccan authorities' request was due to translation difficulties and the need to be 'absolutely satisfied that the Moroccan criminal justice system would deal with this in an acceptable way'.

Detective Superintendent Keith Readman, who led the murder hunt, said: 'I am pleased something seems to be happening. I always thought the prospect of the death penalty was an excuse for not allowing the Moroccans to deal with the matter.'