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Algeria: 49 people executed on charges of burning a citizen and abusing his body

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On Thursday, an Algerian court ruled the death penalty for 49 people on charges of burning a citizen and abusing his body in the Kabylie region in 2021, but the sentences will be reduced to life imprisonment due to the moratorium on executions in the country, according to the official agency.

And the APS reported that the Criminal Court of First Instance in Casablanca in Algiers convicted the defendants in the case of the assassination of Djamel Ben Ismail, who had gone to the town of Arbaa Naith Irathen in the state of Tizi Ouzou to participate in putting out fires that claimed at least 90 lives within a week in August last year. .

Media had initially indicated that 48 death sentences had been issued, but the Algerian Agency reported that 49 death sentences had been issued in the case.

The agency stated that the court also issued sentences ranging between 10 years and two years in prison against 28 defendants, in addition to fines ranging between 100,000 and 200,000 Algerian dinars, while it acquitted 17 other defendants.

Those involved in this case are being prosecuted on several charges, particularly the felony of committing “terrorist and subversive acts targeting state security and national unity,” “participation in premeditated murder,” “violent assault on public forces,” “spreading hate speech,” and “Incitement to destroy the property of others and armed gathering,” according to the agency.

In Algeria, the moratorium on executions has been in place since 1993.

Djamel Bensmail was 38 years old when he voluntarily went to the town of Arbaa-Naith-Irathen in Tizi-Ouzou, in the northwest of the country, to help extinguish forest fires that killed at least 90 people within a week.

When he learned that some of the townspeople suspected him of being involved in starting the fires because he was a stranger to the area, he hurried to surrender himself to the police, but a large crowd of angry citizens snatched him from the hands of the security forces, tortured him, burned him alive, and mutilated his corpse.

Scenes spread on social media showed crowds surrounding the police car in which Ben Ismail was inside, then dragging him and beating him.

After his torture, he was burned alive, while young men were taking selfies in front of his corpse.

At the time, Amnesty International called on the Algerian authorities to “send a clear message that they will not allow such violence.”

The Algerian League for Human Rights also condemned the “shocking” scenes of the incident, and stressed that Ben Ismail had gone to the state of Tizi Ouzou to help put out the fires.

His father was considered a national hero after his call for calm and brotherhood among Algerians.

During the trial, which began on Tuesday, video clips that the defendants had posted on social media showed details of the horrific crime.

These videos showed how Jamal Benismael was tortured, burned alive, and all his personal belongings, including his cell phone, were taken away.