3 sentenced to prison over Algeria concert stampede deaths

The stadium in Algiers where at least five people were killed in a stampede before a concert by Algerian rap star Abderraouf Derradji on August 22, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 29 November 2019

3 sentenced to prison over Algeria concert stampede deaths

  • Five people aged between 13 and 22 were killed and more than 80 injured on August 22
  • The former head of Algeria’s public body for organizing concerts was sentenced to six months in prison

ALGIERS: An Algerian court has handed three people prison sentences for “negligence” over a deadly stampede at an August concert, a judicial source told AFP Thursday.
Five people aged between 13 and 22 were killed and more than 80 injured on August 22 when fans thronged an entrance of a stadium in Algiers where France-based rapper Soolking was performing.
Samy Benchikh, the former head of Algeria’s public body for organizing concerts, was sentenced to six months in prison, with three months suspended, a judicial source said on condition of anonymity.
The manager of a ticket company was handed six months in jail with four months suspended, and the same sentence was handed to the head of the company handling security at the event.
All three were charged with “negligence” after the court dropped manslaughter charges, the judicial source added.
Eleven security guards also on trial were released.
The incident forced culture minister Meriem Merdaci to resign and led to the sacking of Benchikh and Algeria’s police chief, Abdelkader Kara Bouhadba.
Soolking, 29, is a major star in Algeria, and his song “La Liberte” (Freedom) became a mainstay of the anti-government protest movement that has swept Algeria since February.
The choice of the August-20 stadium, one of the country’s oldest, to host the rapper’s sole planned concert in Algeria since his international career took off in 2018, was heavily criticized, in particular by families of the victims.
The day of the concert, large numbers of spectators were still waiting to enter shortly before the show began, and fears of not being able to enter reportedly sparked the stampede.


US official promise help to Beirut

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale speaks to journalists from the port of the Lebanese capital Beirut on August 15, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 25 min 20 sec ago

US official promise help to Beirut

  • The Lebanese are awaiting the results of the investigation conducted by a French team that arrived in Lebanon hours after the explosion to help the Lebanese army

BEIRUT: US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale toured the site of the explosion that occurred in Beirut’s port on Aug. 4 on the third day of his visit to Lebanon. He seemed very stunned by the horror of the destruction. In a statement, he said: “Every sovereign state, controls its ports and its borders thoroughly and I imagine that all Lebanese would like to return to that era and not have the ‘anything goes’ atmosphere that we’ve seen in the recent years.”

“Seeing what happened with the naked eye differs from watching it on television,” Hale said.

The American official praised the “impressive international efforts, in which many countries are participating.”

A team from the FBI is scheduled to arrive today to participate in the investigations to ensure that the Lebanese get answers about and the circumstances of the explosion. “The investigation will be comprehensive and transparent, as everyone demands, especially the Lebanese people,” Hale said.

The judiciary arrested 19 people, including two former and current directors of the port, pending the referral of the file to the judicial investigator who was appointed to tackle the case.

The Lebanese are awaiting the results of the investigation conducted by a French team that arrived in Lebanon hours after the explosion to help the Lebanese army. Several foreign rescue teams have participated in the clearance operations to recover the victims trapped under the rubble. Many of those who were working in the vicinity of the blast are still missing.

The death toll has so far reached 173 dead and 6,000 injured. More than 80,000 homes have been damaged.

The Engineers’ Syndicate, the Engineering Authority of Beirut Municipality and private engineering companies are undertaking surveys of the affected area to find out which buildings need to be demolished.

Meanwhile, humanitarian air bridges with Lebanon continue to provide it with medical and relief aid.

Opposite Beirut’s port, a French helicopter carrier carried a unit of French military engineers in and engineering vehicles and equipment to clear debris from the site of the explosion.

The Lebanese army said: “The French helicopter carrier is also loaded with medical and food supplies, building materials, and two vehicles designated as a gift to the Lebanese Civil Defense.”