Hundreds turn out for funeral of activist who died in detention

Kamel Eddine Fakhar was a prominent activist for the rights of the Berber-speaking Mozabite minority

Algerian protesters march with a giant national flag to keep up the pressure on the North African state's ruling. AFP
Algerian protesters march with a giant national flag to keep up the pressure on the North African state's ruling. AFP

Thousands turned out on Saturday in Algeria for the funeral of prominent human rights activist Kamel Eddine Fakhar whose death in custody sparked an investigation into police handling of detainees.

The 54-year-old doctor was a leading advocate for the Berber-speaking Mozabite minority.

He was buried in the El Alia cemetery in the capital Algiers, where people gathered by his coffin and a portrait of the activist.

Fekhar died in the Blida hospital south of Algiers after being transferred there "in a comatose state", his lawyer Salah Dabouz said last Tuesday.

The activist had been on hunger strike since late March, his lawyer said, when he was arrested for "attacks on institutions".

The Justice Ministry said on Wednesday that it had ordered an investigation into the circumstances of Fekhar's death, following criticism from Algerian and international rights groups.

On Friday, protesters rallying against the country's ruling elite held a minute's silence for the activist before breaking into chants blaming the authorities for his death.

Fekhar's lawyer said his client had been held in Ghardaia, 480 kilometres south of Algiers, for weeks "in inhumane conditions".

The activist was first arrested in 2015 during unrest in the M'zab valley, where Ghardaia is the largest city, between the country's Mozabite community and Chaamba Arabs.

After serving two years in prison for public order offences, he was released in July 2017.

Published: June 1, 2019 09:31 PM

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