Algeria arrests Benhalima’s lawyer after visiting the mother of the death row inmate

The ex-military lawyer and activist Mohamed Benhalima, condemned on death row by Algeria and the one that Spain handed over to that country two months ago, has been arrested by local authorities hours after seeing the young man’s mother.

the lawyer, Abdelkader Chohra, he is one of the few in Algeria who dares to take part in court cases in which the government may come out badly. The arrest has been ordered by the investigating judge of the Court of Chlef. Now he is under arrest in Chlef prison.

Sources close to the family tell EL ESPAÑOL that Mohamed Benhalima’s mother recorded a video explaining the sentence to death imposed on his son and that the document began to spread on social networks.

In the last few hours, the woman met with her son’s lawyer. At the end of that meeting, the Algerian authorities arrested the lawyer. Now, these same sources indicate, she “is scared and she is afraid that the security forces may go to her house to interrogate her, or even arrest her.”

According to him Arabic diary Ennahar, the lawyer has been arrested along with other people for “incitement to disturb public order” as well as for “organizing a demonstration without authorization”. Among the reasons for the arrest would also be “having held a rally in front of the Chlef prison,” reports the same media. This is where Benhalima would remain locked up after learning that he had been sentenced to death.

The Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaskamade the decision to extradite him to his country just five days after Algiers showed his anger and denied having been informed of the Spanish turn regarding Western Sahara.

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The Spanish Government was already aware of the persecution of Benhalima in Algeria, the reason that had caused his flight and his asylum request. In addition, as EL ESPAÑOL has revealed, lthe sentence with which a military court in Algeria sentenced him to dead was issued in 2020, two years before Interior deport him at the request of the authorities of that country.

2020 ruling

To the 32-year-old ex-military man “was not notified” the sentence, since he was sentenced in absentia, when he was on the run from his country. In 2019 he had left for Spain, where he arrived after learning that they were going to go for him after denouncing corruption within the Algerian armed forces.

Benhalima has today 19 procedures opened in Algeria for alleged criminal offences, all of them attributed after his criticism of the Algerian army.

“It is a sentence handed down in 2020 when he had already left Algeria, but he was not notified until a few days ago,” says Adrián Vives, from the CIES NO platform, from where they are in permanent contact with the boy’s family.

The young man’s family and the circle of associations and groups that support him believe that the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could have made two mistakes: “The death penalty is contemplated in the Algerian constitution. They should have made sure that there was no conviction of that type. They had all the elements on the table to infer that this could happen”.

Therefore, in the eyes of Benhalima’s defense, either the government knew the penalty imposed and went ahead with the deportation, or Algeria withheld these details from Spain when requesting the Spanish authorities to hand him over. Both options, in the opinion of these groups and the environment of the activist and ex-military, would leave both Foreign and Interior in a bad place.

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EL ESPAÑOL has already revealed, through sources close to the case, that at least before deporting Benhalima, the Interior knew that the Algerian prosecutor’s office was requesting 10 years in prison for him.

This is a new scandal that grips the Government in relation to the complicated diplomatic relations that it has maintained in recent months with Algeria and Morocco, neighbors but at the same time enemies of each other.

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