A military court in Algeria sentences dissident activist Mohamed Benhalima to death, expelled from Spain in March

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A military court in Algeria has sentenced the dissident activist to death Mohammed Benhalima. The worst of the omens has been confirmed by her own mother, a sentence that has not taken into account the ten years in prison that the Algiers court crime prosecutor requested a few days ago.

The African country accuses Benhalima of joining a terrorist group, compromising the security and integrity of the national territory, spreading false information, demoralizing the army and harming security.

Mohamed Benhalima, 32, fled Algeria and took refuge in Spain in September 2019 when he learned that he was wanted for his participation in the protest movement hirak, denouncing political corruption in the country.

On January 7, 2021, he was sentenced “in absentia” to ten years in prison for sharing videos online exposing corruption in the military. The defendant opposed the sentence. This Sunday, the criminal prosecutor of the Bir Mourad Rais Court also requested ten years in prison for him.

Expulsion from Spain despite threats

On March 24, the Spanish authorities rejected his request for asylum and immediately afterwards resolved his deportation file. It was no use that Benhalima was threatened by Algeria and had asked the Spanish Government for protection because his life was in danger. Benhalima was taken from the Valencia CIE bound for the airport and from there back to Algeria.

On March 24, the Spanish authorities rejected his request for asylum and immediately afterwards resolved his deportation file.

Upon learning of his expulsion, numerous organizations such as Amnesty International, CIEs No or CEAR called on the Government to annul his delivery to Algeria because Benhalima ran the risk of being tortured. Amnesty International issued a public statement in which he expressed his condemnation of deportation: “The authorities had been warned, through legal remedies and appeals from civil society, that Mohamed Benhalima is at high risk of torture, arbitrary detention and unfair trial in Algeria, where These types of human rights violations are increasingly common against prisoners of opinion and peaceful activists.

Several deputies asked the Sánchez Executive for explanations. compromise asked in writing to explain all the circumstances of the case. In response to deputy Joan Baldovithe Government defended that it “strictly complied with the regulations in force” and that, therefore, “the content of Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was not ignored at all” by denying the two requests for international protection, with date of February 18, 2020 and March 18, 2022.

On March 27, three days after being expelled by the Spanish authorities, Benhalima confessed Through a video broadcast on the official Facebook page of the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) that the former diplomat Mohamed Larbi Zeitout, based in London, urged him to “break the military institution”.

In his confessions Benhalima blamed the creator of the Islamist movement Rachad in 2007, classified by Algeria as a “terrorist group”, having enlisted it to provide “confidential” information on the Algerian Army and the Police.

That self-incrimination by Benhalima was the only news that his family and friends had for many days, which made them believe that he had indeed been tortured and forced to publish that confession video.

Upon hearing the news of the death sentence, Legal Network has published a thread on Twitter where he breaks down the chronology of the Benhalima case. The lawyers of this association have represented the interests of the activist and one of them, Eduardo Gómez Cuadrado, stated in an article in Public on April 3 all the details of the case and the injustice that his expulsion from Spain entailed.

Benhalima’s expulsion came days after Morocco released on March 18 the letter that the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, sent to King Mohamed VI in which he assured that Morocco’s plan on the Sahara was the “most serious, realistic and credible” proposal for the resolution of the conflict. Algeria responded to the letter with the withdrawal of its ambassador and, since then, has warned that it may condition gas supply contracts.

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