A Moroccan anti-terrorist court confirmed death sentences given to three men convicted of beheading two Scandinavian tourists last December, and sentenced a fourth man to be executed.

All four defendants had been convicted at a trial in July, but the fourth defendant was originally sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of the two women, killed while hiking in the High Atlas mountains.

Those sentenced to death included ringleader Abdessamad Ejjoud, 25, who had confessed to orchestrating the attack with two other radicalised Moroccans.

They had admitted killing 24-year-old Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland.

Although the death penalty remains legal in Morocco, there have been no executions there since 1993 because of a moratorium, and the issue of capital punishment is a matter of political debate.

The court in Sale, north of Morocco's capital, confirmed jail sentences of between five and 30 years against 19 other men, but increased the jail sentence of another man from 15 to 20 years.

The court also confirmed an order for the three men who carried out the killings and their accomplices to pay two million dirhams (€190,000) in compensation to Ms Ueland's family.

But it refused a request from the Ms Jespersen family for 10 million dirhams in compensation from the Moroccan state for its "moral responsibility".