Observatory for Human Rights in Algeria
Ali Drif, illegally expelled from France, disappeared at his arrival in Algeria
March, 04th, 2005
On February, 26th 2005, at five in the morning, and two hours before his liberation from jail, Ali Drif, an Algerian national born in France, is taken from Saint-Paul’s jail in Lyon by police agents and driven to Marseille where he is boarded on a ship going to Algiers.
The order came from the prefecture of Lyon without informing the detainee or his lawyer. This kidnapping prevented Ali Drif from contacting a judge to examine this decision made by the administration.
Once on board, Mr Drif managed to make a very brief phone call to his wife to ask her to inform the family in Algeria about the situation. Consequently, a lawyer in Algiers went to the boat arrival but did not manage to get any information about him and it has been understood that the Algerian military intelligence picked him up immediately at his arrival.
Reminder on an embarrassing affair
Ali Drif, 44 years-old, married and father of four children is a computer science engineer. In 1995, he is arrested on the basis of suspicions, with seventeen other persons, all accused of being members of a terrorist organization. He has been detained without any charge during twenty months, from September, 13th 1995, to October, 24th 1997 and then was released without trial. On June, 30th 1998, the “tribunal correctionnel de Paris” court freed him from the accusation, because of the absence of material proofs.
On October 22th 1999, another court in Paris, the “cour d’Appel”, condemned him in a second round to three years of jail and forbad him from staying on the French territory. But the laws enforcement judge did not notify him about the application of the remainder of the prison sentence required by the new decision, as this should be done in a normal procedure.
In September 2004, a retired policeman drove through a red light and hit Mr Drif’s car. As a consequence, all the Drif family was transported to hospital and Mr Drif was urged to come to a police appointment. There, the opportunity was taken to reopen his former record which led to him being immediately jailed on September 20th, following a decision made by the “Parquet de Paris” court with the reason of enforcing the remainder of the old prison sentence.
This means he should have been freed on February, 26th 2005. Before the end of this sentence, his lawyer, Mr Jacques Debray, submitted a request to the “Cour d’appel de Paris” to freeze the second sentence, the territory ban. The court decision is assumed to be made on March 24th.
Before the court final decision on the territory ban, Ali Drif was sent to Algiers in the conditions described in the introduction. Since his arrival on February 27th , he is under secret arrest and neither his family nor his lawyer know where he is detained. In Algeria, police custody can last up to twelve days, based on an anti-terrorism act issued on September 30th 1992, and during this period he may be tortured or “disappear” (from official records).
We ask the Algerian authorities to immediately liberate Mr Drif, given that he has no offence recorded against him in Algeria.
We strongly condemn the French decision to expel him, applied illegally without giving him the rights guaranteed by the law. We ask the French authorities to cancel the territory ban sentence, a “double punishment” that contradicts a law issued on November 26th 2003, and furthermore, it is based on claims that should be treated with care.
We ask that Mr Drif is given the possibility to come back without any delay to France where he has a family, a job and his social roots.