An Algerian court has sentenced 49 people to death for the brutal mob lynching of a painter who was suspected of starting the devastating wildfires – but actually fighting them, according to defense lawyers and the state news agency. I came to help.
The 2021 murder in the Kabyle region of northeast Algeria shocked the nation after graphic images of it were shared on social media. it came soon forest fire in mountainous barbarian area About 90 people died, including soldiers trying to control the fire.
The huge, high-security trial over the murder of artist Jamal Ben Ismail involved more than 100 suspects, many of whom were found guilty of some role in his death.
Those sentenced to death on Thursday could face life sentences instead, as Algeria has had a moratorium on capital punishment for decades. Thirty-eight others were sentenced to between two and 12 years in prison, said lawyer Hakim Saheb, a member of a group of volunteer defense lawyers at the trial in the Draa El Beida suburb of Algiers.
After wildfires broke out in August 2021, Ben Ismail tweeted that he would go to the Kabyle region, 320 km from his home, to “give a hand to my friends” to fight the fires.
Upon his arrival in Larba Nath Irathen, a village badly affected by the fire, some local residents accused him of arson, apparently because he was not from the area.
Ben Ismail, 38, was killed outside a police station in one of the town’s main squares. Police said he was dragged out of the station where he was being guarded and assaulted. Those on trial included three women and a man who stabbed the victim before burning her lifeless body.
Police said photographs posted online helped them identify the suspects. His distraught family questioned why the filming crews did not rescue him instead.
The trial also had political undertones. Saheb said five people were convicted in absentia for their involvement in the murder and for belonging to or supporting a banned Kabyle separatist movement called MAC. The leader of the movement, Farhat Maheny, based in France, was one of them. Algerian officials accused Mack of ordering the fire.
Defense lawyers said the confession was coerced under torture and called the trial a political pretext intended to stigmatize the Kabyle people. At the time of the fire, the area was the last bastion of the “Hirak” pro-democracy protest movement that helped bring down Long-serving President Abdelaziz Bouteflika In 2019.
Hundreds of Algerian citizens have been jailed for trying to keep alive the Hirak movement, whose marches have been banned by Algeria’s army-backed government.