The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland filed an indictment on the 28th August in the Federal Criminal Court (FCC) against Khaled Nezzar, the former Algerian defence minister and member of the High Council of State (Haut Comité d’État, HCE), Reuters reports.
According to the indictment, Nezzar is accused of having violated the laws of armed conflicts, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions between 1992 and 1994, in connection with the civil war in Algeria and committing crimes against humanity.
In particular, it is alleged that, at the very least, he “knowingly and willingly condoned, coordinated and encouraged the torture and other cruel, inhumane or humiliating acts, physical and psychological assaults, arbitrary detentions and convictions and extra-judicial executions”, said the official statement.
The indictment was submitted to the Federal Criminal Court (FCC) following complex investigations, which involved questioning 24 people.
Swiss-based non-governmental organisation TRIAL International, brought a criminal complaint against Nezzar, under a law passed in Switzerland in 2011, which allows prosecution for serious crimes committed anywhere, under the principle of universal jurisdiction, Reuters reports.
The NGO has stated that, according to recently published information, the former Algerian Defence Minister, who is 85 years old, is on his deathbed. This has forced them to act, in order to avoid, that, following the accused’ death, the case will be closed, and the victims will not have been given the closure and the justice they demand.
Initially, the criminal denunciation was filed by TRIAL International on the 19th of October 2011 and has been open for almost 12 years.
He was questioned for 48 hours by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, after which he was released, on the condition that he would attend subsequent hearings. His final hearing took place on 8th February 2022 in Geneva, foreseeing an indictment.
The case suspects him of having participated in multiple war crimes, including murder, torture, inhumane treatment, illegal detention, as well as manslaughter, in an “attack against the civilian population” between January 1992 and January 1994 in Algeria, according to TRIAL International. During this time he was the leader of the military and was serving as Minister of Defence.