Algerian State Attorney to Investigate Controversial Book Author
Algerian prosecutors Tuesday announced an investigation of a former army officer who fled to France after accusing his colleagues of massacring civilians, said AFP.
Habib Souaidia, a former lieutenant in Algeria's airborne special forces, is the author of the book "The Dirty War," published in France in February, which claims that massacres by Algeria's Islamic extremists were more than matched by atrocities by government security forces.
The enquiry was prompted by an interview in which Souaidia called for a "rebellion against Algerian institutions," the state attorney's office said in a statement, quoted by the agency.
Souaidia, 32, gave the interview to the French magazine Courrier International.
The state attorney's office said it had begun investigations under a section of the penal code covering threats to national security and incitement to armed rebellion against state authority.
Souaidia, whose book caused a furor in both France and Algeria, said in February that he would return to Algiers to testify if an international commission of inquiry were set up into his allegations.
GOVERNMENT FACES NEW WAVE OF UNREST
The government of President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika is also facing a new wave of unrest from the minority Berber population.
The Berber region in northeast Algeria has been rocked by riots since last week after the killing of a Berber teenager by an Algerian security officer. The teenager was killed on Wednesday during demonstrations held to commemorate the 1980 Algerian crackdown on the Berbers, said reports.
So far, an estimated 50 people have been injured in violent demonstrations in the Kabylie region. The riots resumed on Monday during the burial of the teenager killed last week.
Authorities said the killing of the teenager was an accident. But earlier, authorities said the youth was shot while committing a robbery.
The Berber unrest has included clashes with Algeria's gendarmerie, attacks on police installations and vehicles. Police have responded with tear gas.
The unrest coincided with the 21st anniversary of the "Berber Spring" of 1980 when authorities cracked down on demonstrations in Kabylie demanding formal recognition of the Berber language and culture.
The Berbers of Kabylie were in the forefront of Algeria's liberation struggle against France, but a colonial divide-and-rule policy continued after independence in 1962, heightening antagonism between Arabs and Berbers, who charge systematic discrimination, said AFP.
In Amizour on Sunday, demonstrators torched the gendarmerie and the town hall, looted the courthouse and vandalized lampposts. They also torched two police vehicles.
The demonstrators threw stones while police used teargas to quell the unrest, the reports said.
Meanwhile, in Geneva, an Algerian opposition leader on Monday urged the UN Human Rights Commission to "break the wall of silence" on rights violations in his country.
In an open letter to the commission, Hocine Ait-Ahmed, head of the Socialist Forces Front (FFS), called for an international investigation into the human rights situation in Algeria.
Ait-Ahmed, who has been in exile in Switzerland since Algeria's flawed presidential elections two years ago, alleged that the government had "activated different networks of political militia to create a climate of terror in Kabylie in order to discourage non-violent demonstrations to commemorate the 'Berber Spring'."
Algeria has been in the throes of a civil war waged by Islamic extremists since 1992, when the army prevented the now-outlawed fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) from taking power by calling off the second round of general elections it was poised to win.
The bloodshed has since claimed more than 100,000 mainly civilian lives – Albawaba.com
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