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Algeria protest figure acquitted, lawyer says

By AFP - Mar 01,2020 - Last updated at Mar 01,2020

Algerian demonstrators chant slogans during a demonstration in the capital Algiers on Friday (AFP photo)

ALGIERS — An Algerian court on Sunday acquitted Fodil Boumala, a key figure in a protest movement that has rocked the country for over a year, his lawyer told AFP.

"He has been acquitted. He will go home today," said Zoubida Assoul, a lawyer for the accused.

The prosecution had sought a year in prison for the regime opponent and former state TV journalist.

Held in detention since his arrest in mid-September, Boumala was accused of "undermining [national] territorial integrity", which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

He was also accused of distributing "publications that could undermine the national interest", punishable by a year in prison.

Boumala was highly active in the "Hirak" protest movement, an unprecedented popular initiative which emerged in February last year to demand then president Abdelaziz Bouteflika abandon a bid for a fifth term in office.

The ailing Bouteflika duly stepped down in early April, due to pressure from the enormous protests.

Another key protest figure, Karim Tabbou, faces his own verdict on March 4, according to Noureddine Benissad, a member of his defence team.

He is likewise charged with "undermining [national] territorial integrity", but is also accused of "violent actions" that sought to "impede the movement of military equipment", said Benissad.

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