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Algerians to face trial in France over anti-Islamist torture claims

The scene of a 1989 massacre in Sahanine, Relizane, Algeria
The scene of a 1989 massacre in Sahanine, Relizane, Algeria AFP

Two Algerian men are to face trial in France on charges of torture alleged to have taken place during the civil war between armed Islamists and their country’s government in the 1990s.

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After nearly 11 years of investigation a magistrate in the southern French city of Nîmes on Tuesday concluded that the case against Abdelkhader and Hocine Mohamed should go to trial.

At the end of 2003 victims and their families filed a suit in French court agains the two brothers who were members of an officially supported anti-Islamist militia during the 1990s.

As well as torture, they are accused of carrying out extraducial killings in Relizane, in western Algeria between 1994 and 1997.

The lawsuit was filed in France, where the brothers have been living since 1998.

Under the rules of international jurisdiction France has the authority to try human rights crimes committed abroad, even if the accused are not French citizens.

The brothers were unlikely to face prosecution in Algeria, as a 1999 law aimed at ending the conflict between the government and Islamist rebel groups shielded participants from prosecution.

The Algerian government does not want to see this case go to trial in France and has obstructed the investigation, Patrick Baudoin, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, who is the honorary chair of the International Federation of Human Rights, told RFI.

The two men deny the charges and are to appeal against the decision of the investigating judges.

 

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