One of the best known faces of Hirak, the protest movement which calls for the democratization of Algeria, will continue to sleep in prison. Political opponent Karim Tabbou was sentenced on Wednesday (March 11th) to one year in prison, including six months in prison, Said Salhi, vice-president of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights, told AFP (AFP) LADDH).

"This is a conviction, it is part of the logic of tougher justice. The verdict is heavy," said Said Salhi, adding that Karim Tabbou would be "released on March 26" when he finishes to serve his sentence.

Placed in detention for the first time on September 12 after having been charged with "damaging the morale of the army" by a court in Tipaza, west of Algiers, he was released on September 25. Re-arrested the next day, he was charged this time with "incitement to violence" and again imprisoned.

Wednesday, the court of Sidi M'hamed in Algiers did not hold against him the "incitement to violence" but "condemned him for attacking national unity", told AFP one of his lawyers, Me Salah Abderahmane.

Karim Tabbou's trial this morning at the Sidi Mhamed court,
Until the doors open.
His parents, brothers and companions are already there. #Algeria #Karim_Tabbou

- Mahrez Rabia (@mahrezrabia) March 4, 2020

During his trial, after which the prosecutor had requested a four-year prison sentence on March 4, Karim Tabbou had dismissed all the charges.

Leader of a small unregistered opposition party, the Democratic and Social Union (UDS), Karim Tabbou, 46, is a political opponent who has become one of the most popular figures in Hirak, the anti-regime protest movement which has been shaking Algeria for over a year. His portrait is regularly brandished during weekly demonstrations.

One of the voices of Hirak

Before founding the UDS, Karim Tabbou had been, from 2007 to 2011, first secretary of the Front des forces socialistes (FFS), Algeria's oldest opposition party.

If the "Hirak" has no formal structure, Karim Tabbou is one of the faces and one of the voices.

Another voice of the dispute, Hadj Ghermoul, one of the very first to denounce the candidacy for a 5th presidential mandate of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was tried on Wednesday by an court in Mascara (north-west of 'Algeria).

The prosecutor asked for a heavier sentence against this activist sentenced to 18 months in prison for having broadcast videos "detrimental to the national interest", said the National Committee for the Release of Prisoners (CNLD) on his Facebook page .

The verdict will be released on March 25.

Dozens of people remain in detention as part of the protest movement, according to human rights organizations, their precise number being difficult to establish because of the releases and the arrests that follow.

After obtaining the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April 2019, the "Hirak" demands the change of the entire "system" in place since independence in 1962.

With AFP

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