Algeria opposition activist gets one-year suspended sentence

Algeria opposition activist gets one-year suspended sentence
2 min read
07 December, 2020
Karim Tabbou, a key figure in anti-government protests last year, was given a one-year suspended sentence on Monday.
Tabbou was a key figure in anti-government protests last year [Getty]
Algerian opposition activist Karim Tabbou, a key figure in anti-government protests last year, was given a one-year suspended sentence on Monday for "undermining national security", one of his lawyers said.

A court in Kolea, near Algiers, also ordered Tabbou to pay a 100,000 dinar (637 euro) fine for the same charge, but it cleared him of "damaging the morale of the army", Nassima Rezazgui told AFP.

Tabbou was one of the most recognisable figures at mass demonstrations that broke out early last year in protest against longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term in office.

The rallies led by the Hirak movement continued well beyond Bouteflika's April 2019 resignation, and were only suspended when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Tabbou had not been in custody for the trial, and he remains free.

"I'm hurt to hear these accusations of hurting the moral of troops and attacking national unity," Tabbou said during his trial, according to Algerian media reports.

He said he had "learned politics from people like Hocine Ait Ahmed", a veteran of Algeria's independence struggle who later became a leftist opposition figure.

The prosecution had sought three years in prison as well as the 100,000-dinar fine.

In a separate case, Tabbou had been sentenced on appeal on March 24 to one year in prison, also on the charge of "undermining national security", a sentence he has already served including time in detention while on trial.

"It is truly unfortunate to convict a person twice on the same charge," said Rezazgui. "It is against the law. Our struggle continues for the rule of law."

Tabbou had been provisionally released in July on the orders of Bouteflika's successor, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, a move seen as aimed at appeasing the Hirak.

But Tabbou was detained again on September 26.

He is the leader of a small, unregistered opposition party, the Democratic Social Union (UDS).

Last month, he bitterly criticised French President Emmanuel Macron's support for Tebboune, who has been receiving treatment abroad after contracting the Covid-19 illness.

In a Facebook post, the activist accused Macron of "political hypocrisy" in his support for "an arrogant regime that imprisons journalists, flouts public liberties and subjects the judiciary to its diktat".

The 47-year-old is one of a string of pro-Hirak figures arrested in an ongoing crackdown.

Prisoners' rights group the CNLD says around 90 activists, social media users and journalists are currently in custody, mostly for Facebook posts.

His trial had been repeatedly postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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