Algeria launches trial against 24 members of separatist Amazigh movement over 'promoting division,' 'plotting with Israel'
An Algerian court began a trial of twenty-four Amazigh members of the movement for the independence of the Kabylie (MAK), a group advocating for self-determination for Algeria's Amazigh Kabylia region.
On Tuesday, 16 January, the first instance court in Algiers sought penalties for the group of activists ranging from life imprisonment to 15 years.
The Algerian judiciary charged activists in the "MAK" movement with "committing terrorist and subversive acts targeting the security of the state and national unity."
Algeria classifies MAK as a terrorist organisation.
Among the accused, seven are fugitives, including the movement's leader, Ferhat Mehenni.
"This criminal group embodies the conspiracy being plotted against Algeria by its enemies by spreading ideas that encourage division, discrimination, and hatred," said the public prosecutor during Tuesday's session.
He also accused them of amassing a "considerable quantity of weapons" and "plotting with Israel." He did not articulate further on these accusations.
The defence team has denied all the charges. A verdict in this case is expected within the next week.
The movement was founded in 2001 by the famous singer and activist Ferhat Mehenni following the 'Black Spring' massacre. In April 2001, Algerian security forces opened fire on protesters in the Kbaylia region, killing 126 people and blessing over 5,000.
In 2010, the movement declared the establishment of a temporary government led by Mehenni for the Kabylia region in Paris. Most of the movement's leaders are based in France. Three years later, MAK called on the European Union (EU) to lobby for a solution to the community's struggle. Morocco briefly advocated for the community's self-determination in 2021. Since then, Rabat has not spoken on the issue.
As of now, the Algerian judicial system has rendered three life imprisonment sentences in absentia against the founder of MAK, accompanied by the issuance of international arrest warrants.
In 2021, the Algerian authorities levelled accusations against the MAK movement, alleging their involvement in the significant wildfires that affected the country and conspiring with Morocco and Israel.
MAK has refuted these accusations.