Algeria fires: Dozens sentenced to death for lynching




  • In World
  • 2022-11-24 15:47:45Z
  • By BBC
Djamel Ben Ismail
Djamel Ben Ismail  

An Algerian court has sentenced 49 people to death after they were found guilty of lynching a man wrongly suspected of starting devastating forest fires last year.

The sentences are likely to be reduced to life in prison as there is a moratorium on executions.

In 2021, Algeria experienced the worst fires in the country's history, with multiple blazes killing 90 people.

The lynching victim, Djamel Ben Ismail, had gone to help fight the fires.

After the fires broke out in August last year, the 38-year-old tweeted saying he would travel over 320km (200 miles) from his home to "give a hand to our friends" fighting the blazes in the Kabylie region, east of the capital Algiers, which was the worst-hit area.

Soon after he arrived, locals falsely accused him of starting fires himself.

On 11 August, graphic footage began circulating purportedly showing Ben Ismail being attacked. People tortured and burned him before taking his body to the village square.

The videos caused national outrage.

The fires took place amid dry conditions and very high temperatures, but authorities also blamed "criminals" for the blazes.

The court sentenced 28 others to between two and 10 years for other offences related to the lynching, the AFP quotes the state news agency as reporting.

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