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Algiers Appeals Court: Death Sentence for Newly Discovered Assailants in Bensmail Murder

The Algiers Court of Appeals on Monday rendered a capital punishment verdict for 38 people for their fatal lynching of Djamel Bensmail, a man mistaken for an arsonist, who–in a morbid twist of irony–actually assisted in extinguishing deadly fires in 2021, according to the Algerian News Agency (APS) agency.

The lynching, which took place in the summer of 2021 in the northeastern region of Kabylia, sparked a wave of indignation across the country.

Of the 94 defendants convicted in this case, the court acquitted 26 and sentenced the remainder to anywhere from 3 to 20 years imprisonment, in addition to the 38 death sentences (meaning life sentence as the death sentence is not applied in Algeria.)

Last November, the Criminal Court of Algiers handed death sentences to 49 suspects involved in the murder of Djamel Bensmail, and prison sentences ranging from 2 to 10 years against 28 suspects.

The defendants were found guilty of “terrorist and subversive acts undermining state security, national unity, and institutional stability; participation in premeditated murder; and conspiracy.”

Fakhreddine Berahna, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, said “The verdict is fair, the court questioned the defendants sufficiently to obtain a fair and just judgment for all.”

Djamel Bensmail, aged 38, had volunteered in the Tizi Ouzou region (northeastern Algeria) to extinguish the fire that was ravaging the region. Because he was a foreigner, locals accused him of setting fire to the forest and attacked him. Though he turned himself in to the police, Bensmail was released to the angry mob who burned him alive.

Images of the lynching then went viral, with many people commenting with the hashtag #JusticePourDjamelBenIsmail.

Those who snapped the selfies attempted to hide their tracks, but Internet users from throughout the country compiled recordings and secured photographs so as to ensure that the crime was not forgotten.