Algeria: Death of former minister Khaled Nezzar prosecuted in Switzerland for "crimes against humanity"

Former Algerian defence minister Khaled Nezzar has died in Algiers at the age of 86. A retired general, he was suspected of coordinating acts of torture against Islamist opponents during the Algerian civil war in the 1990s.

A photo taken on January 9, 2016 shows former Algerian Defense Minister Khaled Nezzar speaking at a press conference in Algiers. AFP - RYAD KRAMDI

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Khaled Nezzar was prosecuted by the Swiss justice system for "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity". The day before her death, she announced that her trial would begin in June 2024.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune paid tribute to "one of the most eminent military personalities" who dedicated his life "to the service of the nation".

For years, the former Algerian defence minister symbolised the Algerian regime's security and even repressive policy at the beginning of the black decade, i.e. after the 1991 legislative elections, which were interrupted by the authorities. The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) is on track to win the election. The country then plunged into a ten-year civil war between the ruling military and the Islamists.

From 1992 to 1994, he was one of the five members of the High Committee of State chaired by Mohamed Boudiaf. He then retired but remained highly influential within the regime, ensuring that the interests of the army were preserved.

Arrested in Geneva in 2011, the Swiss justice system formally accused him twelve years later. It accuses him of having knowingly and deliberately created structures aimed at exterminating the Islamist opposition.

Born in 1937, Khaled Nezar was a member of the generation of independence fighters. In 1958, he deserted the French army to join the Algerian National Liberation Army. In October 1988, as army chief of staff, he bloodily suppressed the popular uprising against the National Liberation Front. At least 500 people were killed.

Listen alsoTrial of former Algerian general Khaled Nezzar in Switzerland: decryption with Benoît Meystre (lawyer)

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  • Algeria
  • Switzerland
  • Justice