Editor in the Firing Line in unopened murder case

Editor in the Firing Line in unopened murder case

Algeria Interface, 18 February 2000

Legal action is being taken against the newspaper Libre Algérie for the publication of an article from French daily Libération on the alleged implication of RCD sympathiser in the shooting of Berber protester.

Algiers, 18/2/00 – On February 1, Ait Cherif, editor of the Socialist Forces Front’s (FFS) bimonthly political publication, Libre Algérie, was summoned to appear before an Algiers investigating magistrate. The magistrate informed him that a case was being opened against him following the publication by his newspaper in October 1999 of an article that had appeared in the French daily Libération on October 6, 1999.

The piece was about Smail Mira, who has close affiliations with the RCD and heads a number of so-called « self-defence », anti-Islamic militia groups. He had taken out a libel case against Ahmed Djeddai, first secretary of the FFS, for having stated that “the people of Tazmalt accuse Smail Mira of killing Ouali”. Ahmed Djeddai was sentenced to a fine of 100,000 dinars.

Ouali was a young man shot in Tazmalt on June 28, 1998, in a demonstration against the assassination of singer and Berber activist Matoub Lounès. Several witnesses testified against Smail Mira, stating he had shot and killed Ouali.

The case is still being investigated, a point made by Libération in the offending article under the headline, “Kafkaesque trial – regime’s opponent guilty of libel in an unopened murder case”.

Libération also stressed that the judge trying Ait Cherif had dismissed evidence from seven eye-witnesses heard by an investigating magistrate from the town of Akbou, the competent jurisdiction. At the trial she said: “If you bring before me people who can say who did the killing, I will not listen to them.”

Tarik Rezzak