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[Published: Tuesday March 24 2020]

 Algeria: Quash conviction and sentence against political leader Karim Tabbou

LONDON, 24 March. - (ANA) - An appeal court in Algiers has today handed key opposition political leader, Karim Tabbou, a one-year prison sentence and a fine of 50 000 Algerian dinars (around 405 USD) for trumped up charges related to “incitement to violence” and “harming national security” in relation to his speech in videos published on his political party’s Facebook page where he peacefully criticized the role of the army in politics.
Responding to the court’s decision, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director Heba Morayef, said:
“Today’s court decision sends a deliberate and frightening message to demonstrators, including political and other civil society activists, that anyone who dares to oppose or criticize the government will be punished. Karim should never have been charged in the first place simply for expressing peaceful political views and the authorities must immediately and unconditionally release him
“Instead of persecuting critics and people who courageously speak their minds freely, the Algerian authorities should immediately quash Karim Tabbou’s conviction and drop all the charges against him.”
“At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has governments worldwide considering early prisoner releases, the Algerian authorities must immediately release all those imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights. They should also urgently consider the release of other prisoners – especially pre-trial detainees and those who may be more at risk from the virus – and take necessary measures to protect the health of all prisoners.”  
Karim Tabbou - the leader of the non-registered political party Union Democratique et Sociale (UDS) - was arrested in September 2019 and has been in prolonged solitary confinement ever since. He is not allowed to communicate with other prisoners and is allowed out of his cell once in the morning and once in the evening for 30 minutes each time. His health has been deteriorating according to his lawyers. Today, Tabbou was unable to attend the trial's session after being transported to the courtroom's infirmary upon his arrival from El Kolea prison.  - (ANA) -
AB/ANA/24 March 2020 -  - - 

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