Algerian activist sentenced

30

An Algerian court sentenced a prominent figure in the protest movement that toppled long-time leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika to a year in prison, leading rights lawyers said.

Karim Tabbou was charged with “weakening army morale” last year after criticising then army chief, Ahmed Gaed Salah, who died of a heart attack in December.

He was the most prominent figure in the Hirak protest movement, which emerged in February 2019, shaking Algeria’s deeply entrenched political establishment with weekly mass protests forcing Bouteflika to resign.

Abdelghani Badi, a rights lawyer, said in a video posted online Tabbou was sentenced to a year in prison and could not defend himself after suffering a medical problem.

“How can we prosecute someone who can’t speak because he had a stroke?” he said in the video.

Another rights lawyer, Mustafa Bouchachi, told local media: “This is a scandal”.

Protests continued after Gaed Salah’s death and the election of Bouteflika’s replacement as president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, in a vote opposed by demonstrators.

The weekly mass marches stopped on Friday after more than a year of continual protests, because of the coronavirus.