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50 Algerian Lawyers Ready to Defend Historic Leader Accused of 'Weakening Army Morale'

50 Algerian Lawyers Ready to Defend Historic Leader Accused of 'Weakening Army Morale'

Tuesday, 2 July, 2019 - 09:00
Algerian war veteran Lakhdar Bouregaa (AFP Photo/Ryad KRAMDI)

Fifty Algerian lawyers expressed their readiness to defend an icon of the war of independence, Lakhdar Bouregaa, who was arrested Saturday for making statements against the army and its chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah.

Bouregaa, 86, was arrested at his home and taken to an intelligence services base.

According to state TV, a judge in the Algiers court of Bir Murad Reiss accused Bouregaa of “contributing to weakening the army’s morale” and “insulting authorities.”

Abdullah Habbol, a lawyer at the Supreme Court and a former judge, told Asharq Al-Awsat that he volunteered to defend Bouregaa on the day after his imprisonment, noting that a large number of lawyers would also defend him. A source at the Algiers Bar Association said 50 lawyers had gone to the court of Bir Mourad Rais to retrieve the case documents to prepare for his defense.

On Saturday, Bouregaa declared that the “People's National Army is not descendant of the National Liberation Army,” in what was interpreted by the military as a comment against its reputation.

He told reporters and opposition figures that Salah “has since 2004 acted as political governor for Abdelaziz Bouteflika,” referring to when the former president assigned him as the country’s army chief of staff, replacing General Mohamed Ammari.

Meanwhile, lawyers and activists organized on Monday a demonstration in front of the Bouira court in the east of the capital to demand the release of young people from the region who were imprisoned for raising the Amazigh flag last Friday.

A judge at the Sidi M'hamed district court issued an order that 16 people be placed in provisional detention on charges of “endangering the safety of the nation by raising flags other than the national flag.”

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