Algeria: 49 sentenced to death for setting afire man wrongly accused of igniting deadly forest fire

An Algerian court condemned 49 individuals to death on Thursday for the lynching of a man who had been wrongly accused of igniting catastrophic forest fires in August of last year.  However, since the last executions in 1993, the nation of North Africa has kept a moratorium on carrying out death penalties.

Djamel Ben Ismail, 38, was killed by onlookers after turning himself in at a police station in the Tizi Ouzou area. 

At the height of the countrywide fires that claimed the lives of at least 90 people, he had gone there after learning that he was accused of setting them on fire.

Later, it was discovered that Ben Ismail had travelled to the area as a volunteer to assist in putting out the flames.

According to the APS news agency, a court in Dar El Beida on Thursday sentenced 49 persons to execution for (Ben Ismail’s) murder and mutilation of his body.

The court also sentenced 28 more offenders to prison sentences ranging from two years to ten years without the possibility of release, the APS reported.

Videos from the period showed a throng approaching a police van, assaulting a guy inside, pulling him outside, and lighting him on fire while several took photos.

Despite his son’s death, the victim’s father, Noureddine Ben Ismail, was applauded for encouraging peace and “brotherhood” among Algerians.

Authorities accused arsonists and “criminals” for the breakouts, albeit a scorching temperature was a contributing factor.

Additionally, they cited the Kabylie region’s independence movement, which is located east of Algiers along the Mediterranean coast and is populated primarily by Berbers.

(With inputs from agencies)

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