Algerian general target of new torture allegations in French court
PARIS, July 1 (AFP) – Nine Algerians have filed complaints in a Paris court against the country’s former defense minister General Khaled Nezzar for torture and inhumane treatment, one of their attorneys announced Monday.
Nezzar, the main figure behind the cancellation of Algeria’s elections in 1992, is in Paris to attend hearings in a defamation suit he filed against a whistle-blower who has linked the army to a series of bloody massacres.
Previous similar complaints filed against the general in the French court system have been dropped.
One of Nezzar’s lawyers, Jean-Rene Farthouat, responded by deeming the legal action nothing but « new posturing » by the general’s opponents.
« This confirms my notion that all this is part of a set-up, » he told AFP.
The nine complainants — who allege that Nezzar led a state campaign of torture and repression of political dissidents — have asked that an inquiry be opened, and that Nezzar be detained and questioned.
« Deportations, mass killings, extrajudicial executions and the massive use of torture have become part of a policy of systematic repression sparked by political concerns, of which Khaled Nezzar is the principal architect, » reads the joint complaint, filed on Friday.
The new charges against Nezzar came as the general attempted to salvage the Algerian army’s honor by suing former officer Habib Souaidia, author of the French-language book, « The Dirty War: 1992-2000 ».
Souaidia made explosive allegations about the army’s attempts to quell Islamic militants, who launched a civil war after the cancellation in January 1992 of a general election a Muslim fundamentalist party was set to win.
The former officer claimed Algerian troops massacred civilians while disguised as rebels, shot suspects dead in cold blood and tortured rebels to death during the war against Islamic militants in the 1990s.
The shocking allegations in the book — which has sold 65,000 copies in France — sparked calls for an international inquiry into the conduct of the former military regime in Algeria.
Nezzar’s case against Souaidia opened Monday and was due to last at least a week.
« Some have said worse things than me, I don’t understand why the generals are attacking me and not the others, » Souaidia said upon his arrival in court.
« In any event, I take back nothing that I said. »