Muslim leaders get 12-year sentence

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The Independent Online
ALGIERS (Reuter) - A military court sentenced the leaders of Algeria's Muslim fundamentalist party to 12 years in prison yesterday. Abassi Madani, 61, and Ali Bel Haj, 35, who led the now-outlawed Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), had been accused of conspiring against the state. Both men refused to defend themselves or leave their cells to attend the trial.

The prosecution demanded life sentences, saying 'morally, the FIS was alone responsible for the events of June' last year when 85 people were killed in street violence.

The trial was boycotted by defence lawyers, who said they would appeal to the supreme court whatever the sentence. It was closed to foreign journalists and observers.

In Algiers, a circular from the FIS warned the court it alone would be responsible for whatever happened after its judgment.

Another FIS official, the former mayor of Algiers, Kamel Guemazi, was jailed for six years and four others received four years each.