Algeria: 49 death sentences for the lynching of an innocent in Kabylia

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Algeria: 49 death sentences for the lynching of an innocent man in Kabylia

Forest fire near the village of Larbaa Nath Irathen, in the Kabylie region in August 2021. This is where an innocent man, Djamel Bensmaïl, volunteered , lynched because he was accused of being an arsonist.

An Algerian court sentenced 49 people to death on Thursday for the 2021 lynching in Kabylia of a man accused falsely of arson, but these sentences will be changed to life imprisonment due to a moratorium on executions.

The defendants were found guilty of the lynching of Djamel Bensmaïl, an artist from Miliana (120 km west of Algiers) who had volunteered in the village of Larbaa Nath Irathen, in the prefecture from Tizi Ouzou (north-east), to help put out the forest fires that killed 90 people in less than a week in August 2021.

Although the death penalty is provided for in the Penal Code in Algeria, it is no longer applied under a moratorium in force since 1993.

The defendants , who appeared before the Dar El Beida court, in the eastern suburbs of Algiers, were prosecuted in particular for terrorist and subversive acts against the State and national unity and intentional homicide with premeditation, according to the #x27;charge.

Twenty-eight other defendants prosecuted in the case received sentences ranging from 2 to 10 years in prison, and 17 were acquitted.

The court also sentenced in absentia the leader of the Movement for the Self-Determination of Kabylie (MAK) – classified as a terrorist organization by the Algerian authorities – Ferhat Mehenni to life for charges related to the murder of Djamel Bensmaïl, according to the official APS agency.

Four co-defendants, on the run, including Mr. Mehenni, Brahim Balabès, received the same sentence.

Algerian authorities had accused the separatist movement of being responsible for the fires and the ignominious death of the young man.

Some of the arrested suspects had confessed to belonging to the MAK, according to confessions filmed and broadcast by Algerian television.

After hearing that he was suspected of having lit the fire in the forest, Djamel Bensmaïl, who was 38 years, had surrendered to the police.

Images relayed by social networks showed the crowd surrounding the police van and dragging the man out of the vehicle after hitting him.

Bensmaïl was then beaten then burned alive, while young people took self-portraits in front of the corpse.

At the time of the events, which had raised a wave of indignation throughout the country, the images of the lynching which had gone viral were commented on in particular by the hashtag #JusticePourDjamelBensmail.

Those who had taken self-portraits had tried to cover their tracks, but Internet users from all over the country compiled videos and took screenshots so that the crime, which had marked the spirits by its horror, do not go unpunished.

The photos of the people identified in the videos had ended up all over the web and the harragas(candidates for the clandestine crossing) not to let them board with them, in order to prevent them from fleeing the country.

The arrests took place in several regions of the country.

Some of those involved in the lynching had been handed over to the police by their own families.

Amnesty International called on the authorities to send a clear message that this violence would not be tolerated.

The Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH) had judged for its part that the scenes of the lynching and immolation of the alleged arsonist, when it was a question of x27; a young artist who came to lend a hand to the victims, are shocking.

The victim's father, Noureddine Bensmaïl, admirably dignified, had been hailed as a national hero after calling calm and fraternity among Algerians.

His gesture, which is to be inscribed in the world pantheon of founding acts of human nobility, tolerance, righteousness, little x27;men have been or will be able to produce it, had praised the journalist and writer Mohamed Badaoui.

Excerpts from the videos posted by the defendants on social networks, showing details of the crime, were screened during the trial which opened on Tuesday.

These videos show the lynching of Djamel Bensmaïl, who was burned alive and deported with his personal items, especially his mobile phone.

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