Anger in Algeria after harrowing killing of assault victim who filed lawsuit

Anger in Algeria after harrowing killing of assault victim who filed lawsuit
Chaima, a 19-year-old woman, was brutally murdered after Algeria's security agencies failed to provide adequate victim protection, critics said.
2 min read
05 October, 2020
The victim's mother has demanded the killer be handed the death penalty [Screengrab/Twitter]

Algeria has erupted in anger after it emerged that the current suspect in the murder of a 19-year-old woman was previously jailed for assaulting the murder victim.

Investigators said that Chaima's body was found at a petrol station in the north of the country over the weekend, showing signs that she had been raped, attacked with a knife, and burnt, according to local reports.

Algerian authorities were only able to identify the victim from remnants of Chaima's passport that were found close to the body, discovered in northern Thenia on Sunday, several days after she went missing.

The unnamed suspect was arrested on charges of "rape" and "murder with premeditation", according to Interlignes Algeria.

In a video that has been widely circulated on social media, Chaima's mother called on Algerian President Abdel-Majid Tebboune to implement the death sentence against the perpetrator.

She argued that the suspect currently being held was charged with sexually assaulting the victim several years ago.

Following his release from prison, the man - who was charged with assaulting Chaima in 2016 while she was still a minor - sent out threatening messages to the woman, the mother claimed.

According to later reports, the suspect allegedly confessed to luring the victim to meet him, after he was released.

The incident drew backlash from social media users who directed blame at the country's security agencies for failing to protect Chaima from her known aggressor. 

"The judicial system is so weak against those monsters in forms of human beings, as long as we don't put an end to it all in a legal way this will continue to happen, if it's Chaima today, tomorrow it might be me, you, my sister, my friend, or another woman,"  one Twitter user wrote.

"As an Algerian woman I have the full right to feel safe and protected, therefore I demand for change."

Critics slammed Algerian police for "mishandling the filed complaint" and failing to provide the victim with adequate protection. 

Read also: HRW urges Iraq domestic violence law after horrific death

"The issue is not what punishment Chaima's killer gets. Even if he is killed or given a 200 years prison sentence, shame will follow the police because she filed a complaint and was not granted protection," one person said, calling for the officers on her case to be held accountable.

Amnesty International has previously called for legal reforms, stating that Algeria's current laws "fails to protect survivors of sexual violence" and stigmatises victims.

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