Khaled Nezzar (Algeria)
General Khaled Nezzar is an Algerian national born on 27 December 1937. Former officer of the French army, he later rose through the ranks of the Algerian army reaching the top of the national government. On 27 July 1990 he became Minister of Defense, a post that had been held since 1965 by the President of the Republic. He was then among the leading authors of the coup d'Etat of January 1992, derailing the ongoing electoral process and seizing power trough the establishment of a new governing body, the High Council of State (HCS), together with other four persons. He resigned from the HCS in 1994, following an assassination attempt. Human rights organisations consider Khaled Nezzar as one of the main responsible of the bloody repression of political opponents, especially the islamists, and the massive campaign of torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings towards them in the first years of the "dirty war" which eventually caused about 200'000 deaths, 20'000 disappeared and the forced displacement of more than 1,5 million people.
On 19 October 2011, TRIAL brought a criminal complaint against Khaled Nezzar, who was by then passing through Geneva. Other two criminal complaints filed by torture victims joined the procedure. The next day Khaled Nezzar was arrested by the police and interrogated by the Attorney General until Friday 21 October at 18:30. He was then released after he formally ensured his presence for the next stages of the proceedings. Following this, hearings took place in presence of Mr. Nezzar's lawyers.
In December 2011, M. Nezzar appealed the procedure opened against him before the Federal Criminal Court (FCC), arguing that his position as Defence Minister and member of the Executive at the time protected him from criminal prosecutions in Switzerland.
By decision dated July 25th 2012, the FCC rejected his appeal. The judges considered that one could not possibly invoke immunity for crimes of such a serious nature that they could amount to international crimes, notably war crimes in the present case.
The investigation will now continue, with the possibility for parties to call new witnesses to the stand. A war crimes trial might eventually take place in Switzerland against Mr. Nezzar.
TRIAL will remain seized of the matter and communicate further developments according to the evolution of the case. If you wish to receive news on the case, please register here.
Decision taken by the Federal Criminal Court on July 25th 2012
Unofficial English version of the FCC Nezzar decision
Q&A: Highlights of the FCC decision of 25 July 2012
TRIAL’s press release of October 21st 2011
Clarification in the Nezzar case
TRIAL’s press release of July 31st 2012