Algerian activist Walid Nekiche 'tortured, sexually assaulted by police'
Now at home with his family, he spoke out about what he has been through in the local media.
In comments to Algerian newspaper Liberté, Walid Nekiche explained what happened to him following his arrest on November 26, 2019 during a peaceful protest led by Algiers' students.
"I was first taken to the La Casbah police station, then to the Bab El-Oued police station, where I was overwhelmed with hearings", Nekiche told Liberté.
"I was transferred to Ben Aknoun […] quarters where I spent six days living through hell. There was a lot of pressure on me," he said.
"After this long distressing passage in this sinister place, I was presented to the examining magistrate of the court of Bab El-Oued before being imprisoned in the prison of El-Harrach.
"I have endured a lot during these fourteen months in prison and especially the six days spent in Ben Aknoun."
About his arrest, he said: "There was a lot of police that day. We must not forget that only a few days separated us from the presidential election of December 12, 2019, rejected by the Algerian people.
"I didn't expect to be arrested. My comrades had resisted to free me. In vain […] I didn’t understand anything, I wasn’t doing anything illegal. We had been walking every Tuesday since the start of the revolution of smiles."
The peaceful uprising, dubbed the "Revolution of Smiles" started in February 2019 in Algeria after former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika expressed his intention to stand for a fifth term, in contravention of the country’s constitution.
Bouteflika had already been in power for two decades but was absent from public life since suffering a stroke in 2013.
Protestors demanded that the 'old guard' give up its power and called for an end to corruption and military involvement in politics. They have also rejected the election won by former prime minister and now President Abdelmadjid Tebbounne on December 12, saying such elections are meaningless.
After his arrest, Nekiche completely disappeared until January 2020, when his family was alerted by a lawyer herself warned by other detainees.
Accused among others of "conspiracy against the state", and "inciting citizens to bear arms against state authority", the student risked life imprisonment.
Nekiche first talked openly about the abuse he has been put though during his trial on February 1 in Algiers, declaring: "They tortured me. Sexually assaulted. They took away my dignity".
Finally sentenced to six months in prison for "possession of leaflets", a case that never presented by the prosecution, Nekiche was released on the same day as he had already been fourteen months in pre-trial detention.
Following up, members of the National Committee for the Release of Detainees, and of the National Coordination of Algerian Academics for Change issued a statement saying that: "The conditions of arrest and imprisonment as well as legal procedures continue to be seriously violated, ignoring international conventions ratified by Algeria.
"The case of Walid Nekiche is just the umpteenth case, of inadmissible behaviour by the security and justice services. Is this the fate now reserved for Algerian youth?"
Far from considering himself the face of police repression in Algeria, Nekiche expressed to Liberté his will to go on with his life.
"I hope that I will be definitively acquitted to finish my third year and go to sea for a year of practical training, because I am a student in the navigation sector."
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