Algerian activist returned from Tunisia jailed for 3 years

(File photo: Jordan News)
ALGIERS — An Algerian activist who had refugee status in Tunisia but was mysteriously returned to face trial in Algeria was jailed Friday for three years on terror charges, a rights group said.اضافة اعلان

Slimane Bouhafs “has been sentenced to three years in prison without parole” and a fine of 100,000 dinars ($727), said the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD).

Bouhafs, in his 50s, was accused of having contacts with Farhat Mehenni, the exiled head of the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie (MAK) which Algiers classifies as a “terrorist organization”.

Mehenni, who is the target of an international arrest warrant, was sentenced twice to life in prison during trials in Algiers in absentia last November.

Bouhafs and two co-defendants were tried at the court in the Algiers suburb of Dar El Beida on charges of belonging to and procuring foreign funds for a “terrorist organization” and “undermining national unity”.

The CNLD said the two other defendants, Amazigh (Berber) culture advocate Kamira Nait Sid and former MAK president Bouaziz Ait Chebib, were handed five-year and three-year prison terms respectively, without parole.

Bouhafs, a former police officer who converted to Christianity in the 1990s, was sentenced in 2016 to five years in prison for “insulting Islam”.

Tunisian rights groups said the UN had given Bouhafs refugee status in September 2020.

But he disappeared from his home in Tunis on August 25, 2021 in “mysterious circumstances”, according to Amnesty International and some 40 other rights groups.

Citing Algerian media, the groups said Tunisian authorities had handed the 54-year-old over to Algeria to face trial, several days after his “forced disappearance”.

Amnesty’s Amna Guellali said it was imperative Tunisia carry out an “impartial and thorough” investigation into the circumstances of his “kidnapping, forced disappearance and expulsion” despite his status.

She said it was “an ominous sign for rights and freedoms in Tunisia”.

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