Observatory for human rights in Algeria

Ali Drif reappeared after 10 days in secret custody

Algiers, Paris, March 10th, 2005

Ali Drif reappeared after having been detained for 10 days in secret. He has been freed and did not seem to have been ill-treated.

Expelled from France on February 26th February 2005, he arrived on February 27th 2005 by boat in Algiers, in the morning. He was taken to the central police station where witnesses saw him. When his lawyer went there four days later, the chief denied that Ali Drif has ever been detained in that place. Nobody knew where he was detained and there was some fears of torture and possibility of disappearance after his custody.

In Algeria, Police custody can last up to twelve days, based on an anti-terrorism act issued on September 30th 1992, and arrested people are often transferred in secret centres where they are tortured and then disappear for weeks, months, years or they no more show up again. The number of disappeared in Algeria is estimated to be between 7000 and 20000.

Reminder of the main facts

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.

Since then, he has been working in Decines (near Lyon), as the head of a small joinery company he opened.

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, the prefecture of Lyon prepared the expulsion procedure without informing the detainee or his lawyer. The police took Ali Drif from jail on February, 26th, two hours before his liberation and boarded him on a ship at Marseille, going to Algiers.

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.

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