Algeria: Calls for the death penalty as 70 people on trial for burning a person alive

Algerian Public Prosecution requested, on Saturday, the death penalty against more than 70 people charged with torturing a man, burning him alive, and mutilating his body on 11 August 2021 in the Kabylia region, after they wrongly accused him of causing a fire, according to local media.

Those accused of murdering Jamal Ben Ismail are being tried in Algiers for “committing terrorist and subversive acts targeting state security and national unity” and “participating in the deliberate and willful killing.”

Some 25 other defendants are also being tried in the case and the Public Prosecution requested they be handed ten-year prison sentences after charging them with “armed gathering” and “spreading terror among the population and creating an atmosphere of insecurity” through photographing the crime and mutilating the dead man’s body and publishing photos and videos of this brutality.”

Thirty-eight-year-old Jamal voluntarily went to the district of Larbaa Nath Irathen in Tizi Ouzou in the northwest of the country to help put out forest fires that killed at least 90 people in a week. He then learned that some residents suspected him of being involved in starting the fires because he was a stranger to the region, so he handed himself into the police.

Videos on social media show crowds surrounding the police car which Jamal was riding and show them dragging him out of the car and beating him.

During the trial, which started on Tuesday, videos that the defendants had published on social media showing details of the crimes were shown. The footage shows how Jamal was tortured, burned alive, and had his personal belongings, including his mobile phone, stolen.

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Brett Kinnunen

“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”