Trial postponed in Algerian police killing of Berber youth
The trial has been delayed, of an Algerian gendarme accused of killing a detained Berber youth last year, sparking a bloody uprising in the northeastern Kabylie region, reports said Wednesday.
The trial was postponed after defense lawyers asked for more time to prepare the case, the papers stated. No new date has been set for the trial, which appears unlikely to be held before local assembly elections scheduled for October 10th. The plan to hold the trial in the run-up to the elections had been seen as a gesture towards the Berber community by the government.
Berber leaders have called for a boycott of the polls, after already skipping legislative elections in the month of May, when turnout in the Berber homeland Kabylie was just 3%.
To Berbers, the trial symbolized the government's will to punish those behind the bloody uprising that followed the April 2001 death of teenager Massinissa Ghermah.
The youth died in a hail of machine-gun fire at the gendarmerie in Beni Douala, near the Kabylie capital Tizi Ouzou, in what the authorities have claimed was an accident. In nearly two weeks of violence that followed Ghermah's death, scores of people were killed.
The unrest continued sporadically for months afterwards, and in March this year, fresh riots erupted in Kabylie, claiming some ten more lives.
Since the uprising, the Berbers have demanded that all gendarmes accused of corruption or abuse of authority leave Kabylie. The Berbers, who make up at least one-fifth of the country's population of an estimated 31 million, are bitter over economic and cultural marginalization and angry over perceived official corruption in the North African country. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)