Algeria: three years in prison required against Karim Tabbou, figure of the hirak

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It is for having made critical statements towards the army, and the regime then in place, during a meeting in May 2019 in Kherrata that Karim Tabbou, central figure of the protest movement born in February 2019 which resulted in the resignation of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika is now facing justice. He is accused of having “damaged the morale of the army”.

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His trial had already been postponed many times since early April due to the coronavirus epidemic. It finally opened on Monday, November 30 in front of the Koléa court, near Algiers. And the Algerian prosecution requested a heavy three-year prison sentence against him, announced one of his lawyers. “The prosecutor demanded three years in prison and a fine of 100,000 dinars (650 euros) against the opponent,” said Mr.e Zoubida Assoul sur sa page Facebook.

The verdict will be delivered on December 7.

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47-year-old Karim Tabbou, who appeared free, was arrested on September 26, 2019, then jailed for nine months, before being released on parole on July 2.

In another case, the opponent was sentenced on appeal on March 24 to one year in prison for “undermining the integrity of the national territory”, because of a video published on his party’s Facebook page in which he was critical of the army’s intrusion into political affairs.

Journalists were finally allowed access to the courtroom after being prevented from doing so at the opening of the trial, according to the vice-president of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH), Saïd Salhi .

Figure du hirak

Leader of a small opposition party not approved by the authorities, the Democratic and Social Union (UDS), Karim Tabbou is one of the best-known faces of the hirak, if not the most popular.

His portrait was regularly brandished during the weekly demonstrations against the power in Algeria until their suspension, last March, linked to the health crisis.

Karim Tabbou recently returned to the forefront of the political scene by virulently reproaching French President Emmanuel Macron for his support for his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune, expressed in an interview with the weekly Young Africa and which raised an uproar in the ranks of the Algerian opposition.

In a letter published on his Facebook page, the man castigated “bad faith” and “political hypocrisy” of Mr. Macron, accused of supporting “an arrogant power that imprisons journalists, flouts public freedoms and submits justice to his diktat ”.

Lawsuits still pending

In the midst of a health crisis, the authorities are increasing the number of detentions and prosecutions of activists, journalists and bloggers in order, according to opponents, to prevent a resumption of the hirak.

In Mostaganem (north-west), an activist, Dalila Touat, the spokesperson for the unemployed in the city, was sentenced Monday to two years in prison, without a committal warrant.

She was accused of having encouraged her fellow citizens to abstain from voting in the constitutional referendum of 1is November and “contempt of an official in the performance of his duties”, according to the National Committee for the Liberation of Prisoners (CNLD), an association of solidarity with prisoners of conscience. The constitutional revision was approved with the lowest voter turnout (23.84%) in Algerian history.

Some 90 people are currently imprisoned in Algeria in connection with the hirak and / or individual freedoms. Prosecutions based, for many, on Facebook posts criticizing the authorities, according to the CNLD.

Born in February 2019 from an immense fed up with Algerians, the hirak calls for a profound change in the “system” in place since independence in 1962. It caused the departure of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika after twenty years in power.

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