A view of the rubble inside the Argana cafe in Marrakech taken two days after a bomb blast in April [Reuters]

A Moroccan appeal court has confirmed a death sentence against the mastermind of the April 2011 Marrakesh bombing that killed 17 people, and handed a death sentence to one of the others convicted.

On Friday the chief judge of the court confirmed the death sentence against Adil Al-Othmani, the mastermind of the bombings, in which 17 people - among them Moroccan, French and Swiss nationals - were killed and dozens more wounded.

It also converted the life term handed down to his chief accomplice Hakim Dah to a death sentence. But the death sentences are unlikely to be carried, with capital punishment in the process of being taken off the statutes. 

The court also increased the jail sentences against six of the other men convicted at the original trial in October from six to 10 years and confirmed a two-year sentence against a ninth man.

The appeal trial went ahead after the prosecutors appealed the original sentences. The appeal court sentences were in some respects harsher than what the prosecution had asked for.

The prosecutor on Wednesday had only asked for the life sentence against Dah to be confirmed. But he had wanted harsher sentences against the seven other people convicted.

The defendants denied many of the charges against them during the trial.

One of the defendants' lawyers, Khalil Idrissi, criticised the "harsh" sentences, which he said were an "act of complacency" towards the families of the victims and their countries.

Another defence lawyer said the "court increased the punishments of several defendants who had nothing to do with this crime".

But relatives of the French victims welcomed the tougher sentences. "Now I can grieve," Jacques Maude, who was close to one victim, told AFP.

Capital punishment has not been carried out in Morocco since 1992 and is about to be formally wiped off the book, with a new constitution voted through in July explicitly affirming "the right to life".

The Marrakesh bombing was the deadliest in the north African kingdom since attacks in the coastal city of Casablanca in 2003 which killed 33 people and 12 bombers.

Source: Agencies