Algeria arrests prominent war veteran

Algeria war veteran Lakhdar Bouregaa is pictured in Algiers. (AFP)
Updated 30 June 2019
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Algeria arrests prominent war veteran

  • The arrest of Lakhdar Bouregaa, who is in his 80s, has ‘shocked’ many of those who took part in the 1954-1962 war of independence against French colonial rule

ALGIERS: Algerian authorities have arrested a well-known veteran of the war of independence against France, his grandson and media outlets said Sunday, after he reportedly criticised military chief Ahmed Gaid Saleh.
Lakhdar Bouregaa, 86, was arrested at his home in the upscale Hydra neighbourhood overlooking Algiers on Saturday and taken to a intelligence services base, grandson Imad Bouregaa said.
He told the DzVid news website that his grandfather's arrest was linked to comments he made about Gaid Salah, Algeria's strongman since the ouster in April of veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
"My grandfather said that Gaid Salah wanted to impose his own candidate in presidential elections" to replace Bouteflika, he said.
National television reported that he had been detained for "insulting a state body and undermining the morale of the army", charges for which he could face up to 10 years in prison.
Bouteflika resigned after weeks of protests against his rule, only hours after close ally Gaid Salah demanded impeachment proceedings against him.
Gaid Salah has since been pushing for polls to choose a successor but a planned election on July 4 was scrapped after the only two candidates were rejected.
Bouregaa's arrest was also reported by several media outlets in Algeria, including French-language daily Liberte, and sparked criticism on social media.
His arrest has "shocked" many of those who took part in the 1954-1962 war of independence against French colonial rule, human rights activist Fodil Boumala said in a statement posted on Facebook.
It was a "serious blunder", said the statement signed by dozens of university professors.
Bouregaa, who was a commander of the National Liberation Army (ALN) which fought the French and a founder in 1963 of the Front for Socialist Forces (FFS), one of Algeria's oldest opposition parties.
The FFS said it was "angry" and "dismayed" at his arrest.
Liberte said Bouregaa had contacted his children to inform them of his arrest but could not say where he was being held or the reason for his detention.


Dead body business attracts medics, drug dealers in Egypt

Egyptian Christians stand outside St. Markos Church in Minya, south of Cairo, Egypt, in this Jan. 6, 2015 file photo. (AP)
Updated 23 July 2019
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Dead body business attracts medics, drug dealers in Egypt

  • Some of the gravediggers remove tissues and grease from the bones by boiling them to remove their odor before selling them to students

CAIRO: The Egyptian Orthodox Church has issued a statement condemning the theft of the body of the Patriarch Gerges, son of priest Ibrahim Al-Basit, from his family’s burial place in the Minya governorate.
Last Saturday, the cemetery was opened and Al-Basit’s body was stolen. The crime of stealing the bodies of the dead has recently spread across Egypt, especially while the sanctity of the body remains preserved. It is also common for the remains to be collected two years after the burial.
Last October, a gang was arrested after stealing bodies from their graves. An investigation has revealed that the main defendant sold the bodies to medical students for practical learning.
Some of the gravediggers remove tissues and grease from the bones by boiling them to remove their odor before selling them to students.
The investigation found that the defendant had put a price on various limbs. The leg and the arm were priced at 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($180), the skull cost 5,000 pounds and the whole body was worth 20,000 pounds.
Ashraf Farahat, a legal expert and lawyer, said that Egyptian law demands up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of 100-500 pounds for criminals who violate the sanctity of graves.
Yasser Sayed Ahmed, a legal expert and lawyer, said he knew of many cases where cemetery guards and assistants help people access graves for superstitious reasons in exchange for large sums of money.
The majority of these cases are happening with the help of the guards of the tombs. They exhume graves at night to extract the bodies and separate the organs to sell bones and skulls. They often sell them to drug dealers by grinding and mixing some materials for sale at high prices.