Algeria trial resumes with an empty dock

ALGIERS - Islamic fundamentalists accused of trying to overthrow the governments of Algeria and Tunisia are boycotting court proceedings in separate trials aimed at crushing Muslim extremism in North Africa.

In Algeria, the seven top leaders of the banned Islamic Salvation Front yesterday refused to appear at the resumption of their trial after a two-week recess. They protested that the international press, human-rights groups, and Moroccoan lawyers seeking to join their defence team had been barred from the court, the official APS news agency reported.

The military prosecutor, Boualem Boukhari, said that the proceedings were 'a strictly Algerian affair'. The Moroccan lawyers later issued a statement expressing 'surprise', saying they had received Justice Ministry approval to assist in the defence.

Magistrates at the military prison in Blida, a southern suburb of Algiers, ruled that the trial will go on without the defendants present. They will be represented by court-appointed counsel. After attempts to coax the fundamentalists from their cells failed, a bailiff read the charges to an empty dock. The court adjourned later in the afternoon.

The trial adjourned over similar protests on 28 June, a day before the Algerian leader, Mohamed Boudiaf, was assassinated. A 26-year-old second-lieutenant, Lembarek Boumaarafi, has been charged with the murder.

Prosecutors sent the Boumaarafi case back to the military yesterday, saying it falls outside civilian jurisdiction. The decision by the Chief Prosecutor, Mohamed Tighramt, in the eastern city of Annaba, indicates that the case is seen as too hot to handle by military and civilian authorities. Military justice authorities withdrew from prosecuting the case on Friday, saying it was a case for civilian courts.

The Algerian media have reported that Lt Boumaarafi acted out of 'religious conviction' and was a former pupil of Ali Djeddi, a founding member of the Salvation Front. Mr Djeddi is one of those on trial in Blida. Others include Abassi Madani, the movement's president, and Ali Belhadj, the vice-president. They have been charged with fomenting and conducting armed rebellion, and could face the death penalty. The charges stem from Salvation Front-backed riots in mid-1991 that disrupted Algeria's first campaign for free elections since independence from France in 1962. At least 55 people died.

In Tunisia, 279 fundamentalists went on trial last week for plotting to topple President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. The defendants include soldiers, police officers and customs officers who were arrested in a crackdown in the spring of 1991. Many claim that police extracted confessions under torture.

Suggested Topics
News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress among those on 'master list' of massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey fans rejoice, series five returns later this month
TV
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Primary Teacher in Bradford

£21000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: KS1 Primary Teacher in Br...

Year 3 Primary Teacher in Keighley

£21000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 3 Primary Teacher in...

Primary Teacher

£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of pay, Free CPD : Randstad Education So...

Credit Controller (Sales Ledger, SAGE)- London, Old Street

£12 per hour: Ashdown Group: Credit Controller - London, Old Street A well es...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor