Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Algeria: The killing of Professor Ahmed Kerroumi

A political activist, Professor Ahmed Kerroumi was found dead on 23rd April. He was a professor at the University of Oran and a member of both the opposition Mouvement Démocratique et Social (MDS) and the Oran section of the CNCD. Kerroumi reportedly disappeared on 19th April and, when his body was found in his MDS office in Oran four days later, reports say thathe had received several head injuries.

Because of his international political connections, his death has received greater prominence in both Algeria and internationally than the authorities might like. Only a few days before his disappearance, Kerroumi had met with the UN's Special Rapporteur and independent expert on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, who reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. He was on an official visit to Algeria between 10-17th April and met with many representatives of civil society, including Kerroumi.

La Rue said: “I insisted on absolute freedom to meet with whomever I considered necessary and requested full protection from the State for all those that met with me during my visit, and especially after the conclusion of the mission.” He said that he was deeply shocked by Kerroumi's killing which, he said “is tragic and unacceptable.” He called on the government to conduct a detailed and independent investigation into the killing to bring those responsible to justice.

So far, the judicial and investigative authorities have singularly failed to make much progress in tracking down Kerroumi's killer or killers. Indeed, as time has gone on, the authorities are coming up with more and more stories that smack of incredibility. They include the suggestion that it was someone trying to steal his car, to some sort of sexual motive, based on the fact that condoms had been found (or placed) in his vicinity.

Kerroumi's killing and the silence and tardiness of the judicial and investigative authorities is gaining traction in the Algerian media. Several prominent daily papers are now commenting on the fact that the silence of the authorities is feeding rumour and suspicion. And, of course, given the regime's track record in political assassinations, more and more suspicion is being directed at the DRS.

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria, please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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