The disgraceful persecution of former colonel Mohammed Samraoui in Spain

The disgraceful persecution of former colonel Mohammed Samraoui in Spain

The spanish daily El Pais on the 15th November 2007 published the following text in support of Mohammed Samraoui. We are urging people to widely distribute and to sign this petition at the latest by the 26th November 2007 when we will be presenting it to the Spanish authorities. Please forward your signatures to the following address: [email protected]

The current list of signatories appears at the bottom of the French version of this call.

On 22 October 2007, former Algerian colonel Mohammed Samraoui was arrested by the Spanish police force in Benalmádena (in the province of Malaga), where he was participating in an international chess event.

The arrest was the result of the enforcement of an international arrest warrant submitted by the Algerian authorities, accusing Samraoui of « desertion, damage to the morale of the army and terrorist activity ».

He was transferred to Soto del Real high security prison in Madrid, and was eventually bailed on 31 October by the antiterrorist judge Ismael Moreno, of the Audiencia Nacional (the National Court of Spain). His identity papers were not returned to him, and he now has to present himself twice weekly before the Police. The judge is awaiting Algiers’ extradition request for Samraoui before he can start adjudicating on the case, a process which could take several weeks.

In the meantime, Samraoui, who in 1996 was granted political refugee status in Germany, where he has been living peacefully with his family, is prohibited from returning to the country that welcomed him and runs the risk of losing his job.

We emphatically denounce this Kafkaesque situation, which dishonours Spanish democracy. Samraoui is a true democrat who decided to desert the Algerian DRS ( Department for Information and Security) because he vehemently disagreed with the serious and repeated human rights violations perpetrated by his chiefs.

In September 2003, he published the book Chronique des années de sang (Denoël, Paris), in which he denounced both the crimes committed by terrorists who were claiming to act in the name of Islam, as well as the violence inflicted by elements of the Algerian state apparatus on its long-suffering population during the 1990s.

This is the probable reason that led the Algerian authorities, on 1 October 2003, to issue an international arrest warrant accusing Samraoui of « terrorism ». Whereas, over the subsequent four years, Samraoui managed to travel freely to several European countries without facing any problems, protected by his refugee status, the Spanish judicial system has alarmingly been the only one to give any credibility to the grotesque charge of « terrorism ». The fraudulent nature of the Algerian arrest warrant is undeniable: its objective is to persecute a genuine advocate of the human rights cause in his country and to reduce to silence, using various threats, all opponents of the anti-democratic Algerian regime.

We do not wish to believe that the Spanish judicial system, in the name of a legitimate struggle against terrorism, can become complicit in this underhand manoeuvre, which would violate Spanish legislation of 26 March 1984, protecting the right to asylum and the status of refugees. In the long term, it would amount to making completely inoperable a Europe-wide zone protecting asylum rights, and particularly a space in Spain as is stipulated in article 13.4 of the Spanish Constitution.

This is why we urge the Spanish Audiencia Nacional to immediately facilitate Mr. Samraoui’s return without delay to his family in Germany and to terminate the prosecution case against him.

Hocine Aït-Ahmed, Chair of the Socialist Forces Front (FFS), Algeria.

Paul Balta, journalist, Paris, France.

Omar Benderra, Algerian economist, Paris, France.

Anna Bozzo, historian, University of Roma Treand member of Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (REMDH), Italy.

Marie-Claire Caloz-Tschopp, professor in Political sciences, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Khémaïs Chammari, former MP, expert in human rights, Tunisia.

Francesco Correale, historian, University of François-Rabelais, Tours, France.

Hélène Flautre, Chair of the Sub-commission on Human Rights of the European Parliament, France.

François Gèze, publisher, La Découverte, Paris, France.

Pascal Holenweg, Commission Socialiste de Solidarité Internationale, Geneva, Switzerland.

Kamel Jendoubi, Chair of Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (REMDH), Tunisia.

George Joffé, Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge, UK.

María Rosa de Madariaga, historian, Spain.

Vitto Monetti, Chair of MEDEL (European Magistrates for Democracy and Freedoms).

Salima Mellah, Algeria-Watch, Germany.

Rachid Mesli, lawyer, Switzerland.

Werner Ruf, professor emeritus of international relations, University of Kassel, Germany.

Salah-Eddine Sidhoum, surgeon, Human Rights Defender, Algeria.

Maria Rosaria Stabili, vice-president of the University of Roma Tre , Italy.

Armand Veilleux, Abbey Cistercian, Belgium