Algeria drops 'protest' case against teenage girl

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ALGIERS — Algerian prosecutors have dropped a case against a 14-year-old girl who was facing trial in connection with the country's pro-democracy Hirak protest movement, her lawyer told AFP Monday.اضافة اعلان

"The prosecution... recognized that it had been an error (and) dropped the charges," Abdelhalim Khereddine said.

The teenager had been ordered to appear in court in the eastern city of Annaba on Wednesday, alongside 20 other suspects, charged with attending an "unarmed gathering".

According to Algerian law, the age of criminal responsibility is 18 and minors are tried in juvenile courts. Her case had sparked outrage online.

Rights groups condemned what they said would have been the first trial of a minor connected to the Hirak movement.

But Khereddine said Monday that prosecutors had realized the girl was a "witness and not a suspect" in the case.

"What's important is that she have her rights restored, as guaranteed by the constitution," he added.

Khereddine told AFP that the girl's father has been in prison for eight months for allegedly belonging to the outlawed Islamist-inspired movement Rachad.

The National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD) says nearly 300 people are currently in jail on charges linked to the Hirak movement, which forced veteran strongman Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office in 2019.

Many of the detainees are being held over publications on social media, it says.

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