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Prominent Algeria Hirak Activist Released from Jail

Prominent Algeria Hirak Activist Released from Jail

Tuesday, 4 February, 2020 - 08:15
People take part in a protest demanding immediate political change in Algiers, Algeria. (Reuters)
Algiers - Boualem Goumrassa

Algeria’s human rights groups welcomed the court verdict to release prominent Hirak activist, Samir Belarbi, who was arrested on September 16 for “weakening the morale of the army”.

Abdullah Hebboul, Belarbi’s lawyer, said that the judge at Bir Mourad Rais court acquitted Belarbi of charges of “harming national unity” and “distributing documents harmful to the national interest.”

Speaking to Asharq al-Awsat, the lawyer hailed the fair and independent judiciary.

The prosecution had demanded at the trial last week a three-year prison sentence and a fine equivalent to $300 in local currency.

Dozens of activists and friends of Belarbi gathered in front of el-Harrach Prison in Algiers waiting for his release.

Upon his release, Belarbi said he will continue until all political prisoners have been released.

The army filed the public lawsuit against Belarbi over his Facebook posts which were deemed offensive to the military.

The activist, a former Islamist party member, defended his writing, citing free speech.

Activist and media professor Redouane Boujemaa said Belarbi’s innocence proves once again that pretrial detention should be stopped immediately, adding that it is necessary to monitor all the judges who use it excessively. He explained that only confirmed cases should be placed in pretrial detention.

Separately, lawyers expect journalist and political activist Fodil Boumala to be acquitted at the end of his scheduled trial next Sunday. He is held on charges of “compromising the integrity of the national territory” and “distributing documents harmful to the national interest.”

Karim Tabbou, a famous and prominent activist, is still awaiting trial on charges of “recruiting mercenaries on behalf of foreign powers in Algeria” and distribution of fliers or other publications that could “harm national interest.”

Authorities had in recent months imprisoned dozens of demonstrators, including protesters who had flown the Amazigh flag.

Authorities have continued to arrest activists even after last year’s election of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who pledged to respect the “blessed” demonstrations and their demands.

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