Algeria orders investigation into lynching of man linked to deadly forest fires

An Algerian prosecutor ordered an investigation into the death of a man who was lynched by a mob after being accused of setting fires that devastated the region, Algeria’s official APS news agency said.

Forest fires in Algeria have killed at least 69 people in the mountainous Berber region.

The killing took place in Larbaa Nath Irathen, in the Tizi Ouzou district, one of the most affected by the fires. The victim was identified as 38-year-old Djamel Ben Ismail.

The local prosecutor issued a statement issued by APS on Thursday “following Wednesday’s videos on social media showing the murder of a citizen (burned to death and lynched).”

He ordered an investigation of the case with the aim of identifying the aggressors and sending them to trial “so that the heinous crime does not go unpunished.”

The statement said that a crowd violently attacked the police station where the victim was protected by officers and managed to remove him. They “took him outside, beating him and burning him, which led to his death.”

“Police officers who intervened to protect and assist the victim were also injured,” the statement said.

Amnesty International called on the Algerian authorities to immediately investigate the death and “send a clear message that this violence will not go unpunished”.

Ben Ismail was buried Thursday night in his hometown of Khemis Miliana, 115 kilometers (71 miles) west of Algiers.

“Do you realize that even the dead tortured him?” Mohamed Khalfi, Ben Ismail’s maternal uncle, told The Associated Press. “And what hurts me is that people filmed … I am their uncle and I ask that justice do its job and that even those who watched without doing anything be judged.”

One of Ben Ismail’s friends, Rafik, who did not provide his last name, said he was “an artist, a young man who loves the guitar and loves life … not a violent man.”

(AP)

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