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Friday, November 25, 2022

Algeria sentences 49 people to death for mob killings in the midst of wildfires

 

Algeria sentences 49 to death for mob killing amid wildfires


ALGIERS:According to defense attorneys and the state news agency, 49 people were sentenced to death on Thursday for the brutal mob murder of a painter who had been suspected of starting devastating wildfires but had actually come to help fight them.


The country was shocked by the murder that occurred last year in the Kabylie region of northeast Algeria, especially after graphic images of it were shared on social media.


It occurred as wildfires ravaged the mountainous Berber region, claiming the lives of approximately 90 people, including soldiers battling the blaze.


More than 100 people were tried for the murder of artist Djamel Ben Ismail, and most of them were found guilty of some role in his death during the massive, high-security trial.


Due to Algeria's decades-long moratorium on executions, those given the death penalty are likely to face life in prison instead.


Lawyer Hakim Saheb, who was one of a group of volunteer defense attorneys present at the trial in the Algiers suburb of Dra El Beida, stated that thirty-eight additional individuals were given sentences ranging from two to twelve years in prison.


As the fierce blazes seethed in August 2021, Ben Ismail tweeted that he would go to the Kabylie district, 320 kilometers (200 miles) from his home, to "give a hand to our companions" battling the flames.


Because he was apparently not from the area, some locals in Larbaa Nath Irathen, a village hard hit by the fires, accused him of setting fires.


Ben Ismail, 38, was killed in front of a police station on the town's main square.He was allegedly dragged out of the station, where he was being protected, and attacked, according to the police.


Among those being investigated were three ladies and a man who cut the casualty's lifeless body before he was singed.


Photos posted online, according to the police, helped them identify suspects.His devastated family wondered why the people filming didn't save him.


Additionally, the trial had political undertones.According to Saheb, five individuals were found guilty in absentia for both their involvement in the murder and their affiliation with or support of the banned Kabylie separatist movement known as MAK.


Ferhat M'henni, the French leader of the movement, was one of them.Authorities in Algeria said that MAK had ordered the fires.


The defense lawyers claimed that confessions were coerced through torture and that the trial was a political ploy to stigmatize Kabylie.


The region was the last stronghold of the pro-democracy "hirak" movement at the time of the fires, which helped bring down long-serving President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.


The Hirak movement, whose marches have been banned by Algeria's army-backed government, has resulted in the imprisonment of hundreds of Algerian citizens.

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