Sinned-against Nezzar sins again

Sinned-against Nezzar sins again

Algeria Interface, July 12, 2002

Khaled Nezzar and his supporters have published a memo they wrote to the French public prosecutor at the time of the torture case brought against Nezzar in April 2001.

Paris, 12/07/02 – Hardly was general Khaled Nezzar out of court as his defamation trial against Habib Souaïdia closed than he returned to the torture case filed against him in April 2001. He has just published the lengthy memorandum that he sent to the French public prosecutor at the time. Entitled ‘Algeria: The Cancelling of the Elections, Stakes and Perspectives’, it was cowritten by like-minded Algerian officials and lawyers.

Its publication is part of Nezzar’s all-out drive to burnish the army’s, and his, image. Written on the advice of his lawyer to answer the torture charges brought against him, it seeks to put into the Algerian political context ‘the grievances against [him], the answerability of the case and [his] personal and penal responsibility’.

The first 40 pages review the political situation from the nationwide riots of October 1988 up to January 1992 and the cancelling of the elections. Its authors launch a swingeing attack on Muslim fundamentalism (the implication being the plaintiffs are of that ilk) which, they allege, has not forgiven the army senior command for halting their plans to set up a new Afghanistan in North Africa.

The memorandum also uses the law to defend Nezzar and attack the plaintiffs, Abdelwahab Boukezouha, Lyes Laribi, and the family of Simozrag Yacine. It alleges they were from an early date ‘involved in terrorism and subversion’ and retraces their background.

The authors than go on to argue that Nezzar had no case to answer in virtue of Articles 5 and 7 of the International Convention on Torture which state that a case can be brought in a foreign court only if it is proven that the national jurisdiction was unable to prosecute a suspect. In other words Boukezouha, Lyes Laribi and the Simozrag family should have filed their case in Algeria!

The memo also has a 300 page-long appendix! It is a hotchpotch of legislative and legal documents and press articles designed to support Nezzar’s case. Some examples are a memo dating back to 1990 that expresses the army’s point of view of the situation at the time, the full wording of president Chadli Benjedid’s (forced) resignation in January 1992, and a legal document listing 68 military men, including Habib Souaïdia, found guilty of misdemeanours while in uniform.

Khaled Nezzar wrote the preface to the memo. He presents it is a ‘logical and coherent argumentation’ that obeys the dictates of historical truth and contributes to the understanding of history. Readers are likely to find it dense, slapdash and confusing and written to serve aims other than historical truth.

Karim Aït-Ouméziane