ALGIERS, Algeria (AA) – An Algerian court sentenced 49 people to death Thursday over the brutal killing last year of Jamal Ben Ismail, who they accused of starting forest fires in the Kabylie region.
The Casablanca Court in Algiers said that the 49 defendants were sentenced to death on charges of premeditated murder, arson, torture and subversive terrorist acts targeting the security of the homeland, property and people and undermining national unity.
Out of 102 defendants, 17 were acquitted, while the rest received prison sentences ranging from 5-10 years.
In August 2021, 38-year-old Ismail, a singer, had travelled over 100 miles from his hometown to the Tizi Ouzou region to bring donations and assist in fighting wildfires that had spread across Algeria.
But soon after he arrived, locals accused him of starting fires himself. He sought police protection but was dragged from a police van, beaten to death and set on fire by an angry mob.
It was later found that Ismail was innocent.
The authorities accused the separatist Independence of the Tribes organization, whose leadership is based in France, of being behind the events, seeking to create discord among the citizens. The organization denied this.
The rulings are preliminary and can be appealed to the Algiers Court of Appeal.
Implementation of death sentences has remained since 1993 in the country.