Karim Tabbou among Algerian activists to be provisionally released from jail

Karim Tabbou among Algerian activists to be provisionally released from jail
Karim Tabbou was arrested by Algerian authorities in 2019 on charges of “incitement to violence” and “harming national security” but he may be released today.
3 min read
02 July, 2020
Karim Tabbou may be released today [Getty]
Karim Tabbou, one of the forerunners of Algeria’s Hirak movement, who has been in prison since late 2019 is set to be provisionally released on Thursday.

The decision to release Tabbou follows a request brought by his legal representative regarding his sentence to one year of imprisonment on 24 March 2020.

Tabbou will be released after a judicial request for provisional release was accepted according to Tabbou’s lawyer, Abdelghani Badi.

Samir Belarbi, Malik Riahi, and other activists will also be released later today, either provisionally or on bail.

Their supporters gathered in front of Kolea prison to await their release.

In June Algerian President Abdelmajdid Tebboune vowed to facilitate the release of Tabbou and Benlarbi.

At the time, Soufiane Djilali, head of the Jil Jadid (New Generation) party said he had requested a meeting with Tebboune to discuss Tabbou's case.

"President Abdelmadjid Tebboune assured me that he would use his constitutional prerogative to ensure that Karim Tabbou and Samir Benlarbi regain their freedom… It's solemn commitment on his part," Djilali told AFP news agency early in June.

"Mr Tebboune pointed out that he will not interfere directly in what concerns the judiciary," he added.

In the Algerian judicial system, the president has the right to pardon prisoners.

In principle, that right applies only to those whose convictions are final, such as Tabbou, whose one year prison sentence is for an "attack on the integrity of national territory".

As for Benlarbi, he has been held in preventive detention since March 7.

Tabbou’s predicament

Karim Tabbou, the founder of the Social and Democratic Union party (UDS) - which has been banned in Algeria - was first arrested in September after he took part in a conference calling for the rejection of the December presidential elections.

His charges included "harming army morale", "undermining national unity" and "inciting violence". Much of his pre-trial detention has been spent in solitary confinement.

In September a court in Algiers sentenced Tabbou to six months behind bars as well as a six month suspended sentence.

Having almost completed six months in prison, Tabbou was expected to be released at the end of March to serve his suspended sentence.

Read more: Algeria's tightening grip on the Hirak protest movement

However, on 24 March 2020 Tabbou was sentenced to another year in prison and a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars (US$405) for charges of "incitement to violence" and "harming national security" in relation to a speech he gave, in a video published on the UDS's Facebook page, where he criticised the role of the army in politics.

Tabbou has been held in prolonged solitary confinement since his arrest in September 2019.

The prosecution had originally sought a four-year prison sentence and 200,000 dinar fine ($1,700).

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