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Algeria: life sentence in absentia for separatist movement leader living in France

November 15, 2022 at 9:27 am

Ferhat Mehenni, president of the Kabylia Autonomy Movement in Corsica, France on 8 August 2009 [STEPHAN AGOSTINI/FILES/AFP via Getty Images]

An Algerian court issued a life sentence in absentia on Monday to the head of the Movement for Self-Determination of Kabylie, the Algeria Press Service has reported. A second international arrest warrant was also issued for Ferhat Mehenni, who is charged with establishing a “terrorist organisation”.

The judgement was announced after the trial of several members of the movement who were also charged with “establishing and running a terrorist organisation and compromising the integrity and unity of the nation.” Last August, the Public Prosecution issued international arrest warrants against Mehenni and many of his movement members for allegedly murdering a young man, Jamal Bin Ismail, and burning his body in the Kabylie region with the intention of inciting sedition among citizens.

The separatist movement was founded in 2002 and is headed by Mehenni. He lives in France along with most of its leaders. It calls for the independence of the Kabylie region, which is inhabited by the Amazigh of eastern Algeria. In 2010 it declared the formation of an interim government for the region. The government in Algiers declared it to be a “terrorist organisation” in May.

Although Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has called on the French authorities to extradite Mehenni, no response has been received from Paris.

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