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Algerian jailed for life over 2003 kidnap of tourists

Source : | 8 January 2013 |  24H | 307 views


ALGIERS, Jan 8, 2013 (AFP) -

An Algerian court handed a life sentence on Tuesday to Gharbia Amar, an Islamist convicted of participating in the 2003 kidnapping of 15 foreign tourists, including 10 Germans, in the Sahara desert.

A Malian, Youcef Ben Mohamed, was acquitted of the same charge but given a seven-year jail term for belonging to “an armed terrorist group” and smuggling illegal weapons, one of their lawyers, Hassiba Boumerdassi, said.

Amar received a second life sentence on the arms trafficking charge.

“The judgement is not satisfactory, because both of them were held for six years by the Chadian authorities,” who arrested them in 2004 before handing them over to the Algerians in 2010, Boumerdassi said.

The prosecution had requested the death penalty for Amar, 39, and life in prison for Ben Mohamed, who served Amari Saifi, alias Abderrazak El-Para, the detained former number two of Algeria’s jihadist Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), now merged with Al-Qaeda.

The 15 tourists kidnapped in February 2003 in southern Algeria, close to the Malian border, were all eventually released.

Saifi has been in custody awaiting trial since 2004. The GSPC changed its name to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb in 2007, when it announced it was affiliating with the international jihadist network.

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