RABAT: Morocco Tuesday jailed a British man, previously convicted of child sex offences, for 20 years for kidnapping and attempting to rape three young girls, a rights activist at the trial said.
Robert Bill, 59, a former teacher from North Wales, was found guilty by the court in Tetouan at a hearing attended by his victims, Mohammed Benaissa, who heads the Northern Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP.
Bill, who had pleaded his innocence, saying there was no proof of the charges against him, has 10 days to appeal the verdict.
In addition to the 20-year prison sentence, he was fined 100,000 dirhams ($12,420/9,000 euros).
"We welcome this ruling, because it protects the children and it sends a warning to paedophiles," Benaissa said.
Bill was arrested at a petrol station in Tetouan, in northern Morocco, last June when locals overheard the screams of the six-year-old girl he allegedly abducted, surrounded his Spanish-registered car and alerted the police.
He was also accused of kidnapping and attempting to rape another two Moroccan girls prior to his arrest, one in Tetouan and one in the nearby town of Chefchaouen.
Bill's trial had previously been postponed when the defendant's Moroccan lawyers withdrew from the case and, at the previous hearing in March, one of the victims passed out in court, Benaissa said.
The former teacher has already served jail time in Britain following his conviction by a Welsh court in 2009 of attempting to abduct a five-year-old girl.
After leaving prison he travelled to southern Spain, arriving in Morocco in November 2012 from the town of Ceuta, a Spanish enclave perched on the North African coast.
Spanish police had issued a warrant for his arrest on separate paedophilia and kidnapping charges.
Last July, a Spanish paedophile convicted of raping 11 children and serving a 30 year sentence was mistakenly freed under a royal pardon along with dozens of other Spaniards held in Moroccan jails, sparking outrage across the kingdom.
The pardon was blamed on a clerical error by the prisons department and hastily revoked.
Daniel Galvan, 63, had already travelled to Spain, where he was re-arrested. In November, a Madrid court ruled that he should serve the rest of his sentence in Spain, refusing to extradite him to Morocco.