Fri. Mar 31st, 2023


Amnesty International has urged the Algerian authorities to overturn death sentences against dozens of people over the lynching of man falsely accused of starting forest fires.

Amnesty said five of the 54 people who were convicted last November received their sentences in absentia, and included a woman.

A further 28 people were sentenced to between two and 10 years, while another 17 were acquitted over the lynching of Djamel Ben Ismail, who had gone to help fight the fires.

Locals falsely accused Ismail of starting fires himself and attacked him, torturing and burning him before taking his body to the village square.

On Monday, Amnesty said the cases were “marred by fair trial violations and torture claims” and least six people “were prosecuted due to their political affiliations”.

“By resorting to the death penalty in mass proceedings following unfair trials, the Algerian authorities not only reveal their utter disregard for human life, but also send a chilling message about how justice is delivered,” said Amnesty’s regional head, Amna Guellali.

She urged the authorities to urgently overturn “these callous death sentences and convictions”.

The defendants are appealing against their convictions but the date of their appeal has yet to be fixed, the AFP news agency has quoted their lawyer as saying.

By Joy

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