On Thursday, an Algerian court issued death sentences against 49 people charged with burning citizen Jamal Ben Ismail alive and mutilating his body in the Kabylia region after they wrongly accused him of causing a vast fire. However, sentences would be reduced to life imprisonment due to the country’s moratorium on executions, according to the Algeria Press Service (APS).
The APS has said the Casablanca Court of First Instance in Algiers had convicted the defendants in the case of Ben Ismail’s murder. Local media had initially said 48 death sentences were issued, but the APS confirmed the issuance of 49 death sentences in the case.
The APS has said the court also handed down judgements “ranging from ten to two years enforceable imprisonment against 28 defendants, in addition to fines ranging from 100 to 200,000 Algerian dinars, while it acquitted 17 other defendants.”
All the accused were prosecuted on multiple charges, particularly the offence of committing “terrorist acts and subversion against the state security and national unity,” “involvement in deliberate and premeditated murder,” “assault with violence against members of the public force,” “dissemination of hate speech” and “incitement to destroy the property of others and armed gathering,” according to the APS.
Since 1993, a moratorium on implementing the death penalty has been enforced in Algeria.
In this case, the Algerian Public Prosecution had demanded the death penalty against more than 70 persons charged with taking part in the murder of Ben Ismail.
It is noteworthy that Jamal Ben Ismail, 38 years old, voluntarily went to a town in Tizi Ouzou in the northwest of the country to help extinguish forest fires that killed at least 90 people in a week.
When he learned that some of the town’s residents suspected him of being involved in setting fires because he was a stranger to the region, he rushed to hand himself to the police, however, a large crowd of angry citizens snatched him from the hands of the police, tortured him, burned him alive and mutilated his body.
Some videos circulated on social media showed crowds surrounding the police car where Ben Ismail was held, they then dragged him out and started beating him.
During the trial, videos published by the defendants on social media platforms were presented showing details of the horrendous crime.
The videos showed how Jamal Ben Ismail was tortured, burned alive, and how all his personal belongings, including his cell phone, were stolen.