An Algerian court yesterday sentenced 49 people to death over the lynching of a man falsely accused of starting deadly forest fires in August last year, state media reported.
The North African country has, however, maintained a moratorium on carrying out death sentences since the last executions in 1993. Onlookers had beaten 38-year-old Djamel Ben Ismail to death after he turned himself in at a police station in the Tizi Ouzou region.
He had gone there upon hearing that he was suspected of arson, at the height of blazes which killed at least 90 people nationwide.
It later emerged that Ben Ismail had headed to the region as a volunteer to help put out the fires.
The court in Dar El Beida “sentenced 49 people to execution over (Ben Ismail’s) murder and mutilation of his body,” the APS news agency reported. The court also handed 28 other defendants jail terms of two years to a decade without parole.