Algeria court sentences youths after Bouteflika demo

AFP , Sunday 18 May 2014

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (not pictured) in Zeralda, outside of Algiers, April 3, 2014. (Photo:Reuters)

Two youths, one a Tunisian, were given six-month suspended sentences on Sunday for protesting against a fourth presidential mandate for Algeria's Abdelaziz Bouteflika, their lawyers said.

The pair, who have consistently protested their innocence, were found guilty by the Algiers court of joining an "unarmed gathering", but would be freed after spending more than a month in custody, Noureddine Benissad said.

The prosecution had asked for a one-year prison term for each defendant.

They had said they were only passing by on April 16 when the Barakat ("Enough") movement organised a demonstration ahead of the presidential election, which Bouteflika won easily.

"This kind of judicial case is a threat to liberty and human rights in Algeria," another lawyer, Mustapha Bouchachi, told AFP.

He recently stepped down as a lawmaker, accusing the National Assembly of being a "docile tool" of the regime.

Activists and rights groups had demanded the release of the two youths.

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