Detained Algeria rights activist on hunger strike: lawyer

Algerian human rights activist Abdelkader Kherba, who was arrested earlier this week while trying to film a protest against water cuts, is on hunger strike, his lawyer said on Thursday.”Abdelkader Kherba has begun a hunger strike since he was detained” on Tuesday, Amine Sidhom told AFP.

She said a group of human rights lawyers will head to the prison where Kherba is being held on Monday, on the eve of his trial in Ksar el-Boukhari, in the Medea region, 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Algiers.Kherba, who is affiliated to several human rights organisations, including one that backs unemployed Algerians, is charged with insulting an official.

He faces up to two years in jail if found guilty and a 10,000 euro fine, Sidhom said.The 32-year-old activist was arrested in Ksar el-Boukhari, his home town, as he was preparing to film a demonstration by residents against the regular water cuts they experience, a common problem in Algeria.

A policeman prevented him from filming and an angry exchange between the two followed, resulting in Kherba’s arrest. The activist has already run up against the law this year.He was handed a one year suspended jail sentence and a 20,000 dinar (200 euro) fine by an Algiers court in May for inciting unrest, after he participated in a sit-in organised by clerks outside the courthouse.

The network of rights lawyers has appealed against that ruling and a new trial has been scheduled for September 8.

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