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Moroccan king hires top lawyer to defend pop star accused of Paris rape

State news agency confirms king paying legal fees of Saad Lamjarred, arrested last week on suspicion of aggravated rape of 20-year-old woman
Saad Lamjarred faces charges of 'aggravated rape' and 'aggravated voluntary violence'

Morocco's King Mohammed VI is to cover the legal fees of pop singer Saad Lamjarred, who faces trial in France for the alleged "aggravated rape" of a 20-year-old woman in Paris.

The country's official MAP news agency reported on Tuesday that the king had told Lamjarred's family that French lawyer Eric Dupond Moretti, known for securing his clients' acquittals, "can defend the singer".

The king "decided to cover the corresponding costs", MAP said, sourcing its information to Rabat's embassy in Paris.

The embassy told AFP: "This is a favourable response to a request from the family of the singer who sought his majesty's intervention, and with respect for the presumption of innocence."

Lamjarred, 31, is a star in Morocco and the wider Arab world and his internet videos have been watched millions of times.

On Friday, he was charged in France with "aggravated rape" and "aggravated voluntary violence" after a 20-year-old woman on Wednesday filed a complaint against him.

She claims that several hours earlier, the star assaulted her in his hotel room near the Champs Elysees in Paris.

According to initial results of the inquiry, Lamjarred was said to be under the influence of both alcohol and drugs at the time of the alleged offences.

Lamjarred, who had been due to perform in Paris on Saturday, was arrested and placed in custody.

His detention was greeted with consternation in his home country, where he had been decorated in August last year by the king.

The announcement also comes as Morocco is recovering from weekend protests after the death of fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri, who was crushed in a rubbish truck on Friday trying to recover fish confiscated by police.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.