United Kingdom

Fires in Algeria: dozens sentenced to death for lynching

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Football Highlights

Djamel Ben Ismail had gone to help put out the bushfires when he was falsely accused of arson and attacked by a mob

An Algerian court has sentenced 49 people to death after finding them guilty of lynching a man wrongly suspected of starting devastating forest fires last year.

Sentences will likely be reduced to life in prison as there is a moratorium on executions.

In 2021, Algeria experienced the worst fires in the country’s history, with multiple fires killing 90 people.

The victim of the lynching, Djamel Ben Ismail, had gone to help fight the fires.

After the fires broke out last August, the 38-year-old tweeted that he would travel more than 320km (200 miles) from his home to “give a hand to our friends” in fighting the fires in the Kabylie region, east of the capital Algiers, the worst affected area.

Shortly after he arrived, the locals falsely accused him of setting the fire himself.

On August 11, graphic images began circulating showing Ben Ismail being attacked. People tortured and burned him before taking his body to the village square.

The videos sparked national outrage.

The fires occurred amid dry conditions and very hot temperatures, but authorities also blamed “criminals” for the fires.

The court sentenced 28 others to between two and 10 years for other crimes related to the lynching, UKTN quotes the state news agency as saying.