Malik Medjnoun, detained since 9 years without trial, on indefinite hunger strike

Malik Medjnoun, detained since 9 years without trial, on indefinite hunger strike

AlKarama for Human Rights, February 27, 2008

AlKarama sent an urgent appeal to the Committee on Human Rights to draw its attention on the situation of Malik Medjnoun, who was arrested on September 28, 1999 and detained without trial for almost nine years. The Algerian authorities have not acted on the findings of the Committee which had ordered in 2006 to either try him or release him. To protest against the refusal of the judge, Mr. Medjnoun began Monday, February 25, 2008 a indefinite hunger strike.


Malik Medjnoun was accused of complicity in the murder in June 1998 of the popular singer, Lounes Matoub, which he always denied. Kidnapped near his home in Tizi-Ouzou on September 28, 1999 by agents of the Algerian secret service (Department of Intelligence and Security, or DRS), he was held in a secret detention centre DRS called Antar, situated in Ben Aknoun, in the suburbs of the capital Algiers. For more than eight months in detention, he was brutally tortured according to the techniques used by the security services (method of cloth, electricity. Etc.).

His parents remained without news from him throughout this period. The Attorney General of Tizi-Ouzou, seized by the father of the victim through a kidnapping complaint, had refused to order request an investigation on the disappearance of Medjnoun.

Worse, Malik Medjnoun was presented for the first time before the judge to whom he reported the conditions of his abduction, but the judge refused to defer him before a magistrate, becoming thereby guilty of kidnapping and sequestration followed by torture.

This attitude of the Procurator’s Office of Tizi-Ouzou, which allowed the DRS to torture and incommunicado detain a person for more than six months, unambiguously show the connivance and involvement of the Algerian justice system in the serious violations of human rights.

Following a request by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on Enforced April 2000, the Algerian authorities decided to present when Malik Medjnoun before the Judge of Tizi-Ouzou on May 2, 2000. It is at this time that, for the first time, he was confronted with the accusation of complicity in the assassination of Lounes Matoub.

Acting upon a request of Mr. Medjnoun’s father on June 11, 2004, the Committee on Human Rights has asked the Algerian authorities for clarifications about the case. The authorities informed the Board on December 28, 2004 « that the case should be submitted shortly to the criminal court of Tizi-Ouzou to be judged. » Since that date, 14 criminal sessions were held at the criminal court of Tizi-Ouzou systematically avoiding the case of Mr. Malik Medjnoun.

The Committee has declared in its findings on August 9, 2006 that it recommends to Algerian the Government to bring immediately Malik Medjnoun before a judge to be tried or else to be liberated, and also to conduct a thorough investigation on his detention and what he has been subjected to since his abduction on September 28, 1999 and to initiate criminal proceedings against those responsible for these violations. It also called on the Algerian state to compensate adequately Mr. Medjnoune for the violations he had suffered and to take steps to ensure that no such violaitons would occur again in the future. »

During the examination of the Algerian periodic report by the Committee on Human Rights in October 2007, the experts called on the Algerian delegation about the steps taken by the Government to give effect to the Committee’s recommendations regarding the case of Mr. Medjnoun. The Algerian press had even launched shortly before ths examination the information that Mr. Medjnoun would at last be judged on Nov. 11, 2007, when in fact his case had never scheduled by the court of Tizi-Ouzou.

In protest against the refusal of the Algerian authorities to bring him in front of a judge, Malik Medjnoun began a indefinite hunger strike on Monday, February 25, 2008.

On February 26, 2008, the Attorney General of the Court of Tizi-Ouzou, M. Lazizi Tayeb, went to the prison, accompanied by the president of the court (who is also the president of the criminal court) to ask Mr. Medjnoun to stop his strike. The judge sought to convince Malik Medjnoun that, being a « sensitive matter », they had not, neither he nor the President of the Court, the authority to set the case to a hearing before the criminal criminal, but that they nevertheless would do their best to intervene with the « competent authorities ».

However, it must be stressed that the Attorney General is by the law, the only competent authority to propose to the president of the criminal court to place a case on the the session of the criminal court. (Art. 255 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Algeria).

The president of the court may also, under section 254 of the Code « decide whether to hold one or more additional sessions if the number or importance of the cases requires it. »

All these facts clearly demonstrate the failure of the Algerian authorities to comply with the UN Committee’s views. This cases proves also that There is a serious interference with the functions of the judiciary authorities which have issued instructions contrary to the law and that would seriously violate the human rights of a citizen by refusing to bring him to court.