ALGIERS: Thirty-eight people were sentenced to death in Algeria today over the lynching of a man who was accused of arson while trying to fight deadly wildfires.
The death sentences will be commuted to life in prison as the North African country has maintained a moratorium on capital punishment since the last executions in 1993.
The case relates to events dating back to the summer of 2021, when 38-year-old painter Djamel Ben Ismail was killed in the northeastern Kabylie region, setting off a wave of revulsion across the country.
Out of the 94 defendants whose cases were heard by the Algiers court of appeal, 27 were acquitted and the remaining 29 who were not sentenced to death received jail terms ranging from three to 20 years, the state news agency APS said.
Ben Ismail had turned himself in to police after hearing he was suspected of arson at the height of blazes which killed at least 90 people nationwide.
Videos posted online showed a crowd surrounding a police van and beating a man inside it, then dragging him out and setting him on fire, with some taking selfies next to his body.
After the gruesome images went viral, often shared with the hashtag #JusticePourDjamelBenIsmail, the people who took the selfies tried to cover their tracks.
But internet users across the country compiled videos and took screenshots to ensure the crime did not go unpunished.