At the end of a trial held between 15 and 24 November, the Court of Algiers sentenced 49 people to death. They are accused of having lynched to death the activist Djamel Bensmaïl, wrongly suspected of being behind the forest fires that killed 90 people in less than a week in August 2021 in TiziOuzou (north-east).
In a statement, Amnesty International called on the Algerian authorities to annul these sentences, noting that “imposing the death penalty is never justifiable, regardless of the crime committed. These despicable death penalties and convictions must be annulled without delay.”
Claiming that the death penalty was also imposed on five other suspects, including a woman, tried in absentia, the NGO accused the Algiers court of holding “unfair” trials and denounced “acts of torture and ill-treatment” of the accused.
According to Amnesty International, at least six of the defendants were prosecuted because of their link with the Movement for Self-Determination of Kabylia (MAK), classified as a ‘terrorist’ organisation by the Algerian authorities in June 2021, while five others said they were subjected to torture or ill-treatment in detention.