France admits murder of Algerian freedom fighter

PARIS

French forces “tortured and murdered” Algerian lawyer and freedom fighter Ali Boumendjel during his country’s war for independence, the French president admitted, nearly six decades after his death was called suicide.

In a big step to repair his damaged relations with Algeria, Emmanuel Macron received four of Boumendjel’s grandchildren at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday and acknowledged the country’s historic crimes.

“[He] did not commit suicide. He was tortured and then killed, ”Macron said.

“No crime, no atrocity committed by anyone during the Algerian war can be excused or concealed. We must look at them with courage and lucidity, with absolute respect for all those whose lives have been shattered and their destinies torn apart. “

The official recognition of the assassination of Boumendjel follows the recommendation of the report by historian Benjamin Stora on the memory of colonization and the Algerian war.

The report commissioned by Macron in 2019 and submitted in January this year proposes a series of concrete measures “to build bridges” and “to respond to long-standing grievances and demands” of the Algerian people.

Boumendjel’s widow, Malika, had fought a long and hard battle to establish the truth about the circumstances of the death of her husband and that of her father Belkacem Amrani, her brother Andre Amrani and her friend Selhi Mohand, all missing during the battle of 1957.

The facts were partially revealed in 2000 when the French army general and intelligence chief in Algeria Paul Aussaresses became the first senior military official to recognize that torture was a “legitimate tool” deployed during the war and that his unit was a “death squad”. “

The one-eyed general also revealed that Boumendjel was arrested by his men on February 9, 1957, then killed and thrown from a building.

A press release from the Elysee Palace reminds us once again: “At the heart of the battle of Algiers, he was arrested by the French army, placed in solitary confinement, tortured, then assassinated on March 23, 1957. Paul Aussaresses him – even confessed to having ordered one. of his subordinates to kill him and disguise the crime as suicide.

A French court convicted Aussaresses for defending the use of torture in 2002 and he was subsequently stripped of the country’s highest honor, the Legion of Honor.

The 132-year-long occupation of Algeria ended in 1962 in a brutal war. Historians estimate that nearly 1.5 million Algerians were killed during the eight-year struggle for independence.

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Thelma J. Longworth

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