The official Moroccan Map news agency quoted a source on Friday who said Mustafa Alaui, the managing editor of al-Usbuai, would be pursued through the courts.

The newspaper published a cartoon on 9 January showing a silhouette of a person with his trousers down to illustrate an article on al-Qadhafi's decision to renounce weapons of mass destruction.

After an enquiry by judicial police about the complaint, the source said a case would come to trial in Rabat on 5 March.

'Unfounded' complaint

Alaui insisted last month the complaint was unfounded, saying: "The cartoon carried no name nor showed a face".

Muhammad VI has been urged to
ensure Moroccan press freedom

The editor was one of seven journalists recently pardoned by Moroccan King Muhammad VI.

He had been given a one-year suspended prison sentence last July, and saw his paper suspended for three months for "inciting violence".

He had published a statement from an unknown organisation which claimed responsibility for three of five attacks in Casablanca last year and cast aspersions on the Moroccan police.

Human rights

In the past, human rights organisations have condemned Morocco for restricting freedom of expression.

Amnesty International welcomed a royal pardon last month of about 25 political prisoners who were being tried on political charges.

But the organisation urged the Moroccan authorities to address
 the "dozens of outstanding cases of political prisoners detained after conviction in unfair trials".

Amnesty has said the Moroccan government should ensure its domestic legislation is changed to
 guarantee compliance with international human rights treaties.

And it added that "all provisions that permit prison sentences for the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression must be removed and further safeguards for fair trials introduced".