Amnesty International’s witness testimonies indicate that Ramzi was beaten on the head by police as he was heading home from a hostile government protest.
Rabat – The Algerian Prosecutor has called for a thorough, unbiased investigation into the death of protester Ramzi Yettou, 22, who was killed last month.
The human rights organization Amnesty International has amassed evidence including witness statements from an emergency healthcare volunteer, two relatives, two legal advisers, and a specialist. The evidence shows that Ramzi dies on 19 April due to wounds inflicted by police batons.
As indicated by Amnesty International’s witness testimonies, Ramzi was beaten on the head by police as he was going to head home after attending a hostile government protest in central Algiers on 12 April 2019. The protest had been disbanded by security forces using tear gas and water cannons.
“Eyewitness accounts strongly suggest that Ramzi Yettou was brutally beaten on the head by police, causing injuries that appear to have led to his death.” Said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
“Algeria’s authorities have a dire track record of not holding members of the security forces to account for human rights violations, which makes it all the more crucial for them to ensure that the investigation into Ramzi’s death is meaningful,” added the AI representative.
Algeria’s prosecutor orders an investigation
Amnesty International reviewed a copy of a police report authorizing Ramzi’s burial which cited the cause of death as “undetermined”, prompting Algeria’s prosecutor to order an investigation into the circumstances of his death.
The prosecutor stated, “Ordering an investigation into Ramzi Yettou’s death is only the first step towards justice. It is crucial that the investigation is independent, impartial and effective, and those police officers involved are suspended while the investigation is ongoing.”
“Failing to hold the perpetrators behind Ramzi Yettou’s death to account will only embolden the police and send the message that they are free to operate above the law and that they can commit crimes without facing any consequences.” Added the prosecutor.
At the scene of the crime
According to Amnesty International, Ramzi was about to head home to the town of Bougara (Blida) after attending a protest in Algiers on the afternoon of 12 April with approximately five friends. Police stopped the truck they were traveling in after the driver attempted to drive down a street in the wrong direction. When the police attacked them, some of the group managed to flee and others were beaten with batons.
Before he lost consciousness, Ramzi told a first aid volunteer, who found him lying on the ground with blood on his jacket, that he had been beaten by police.
According to the volunteer, his nose was bruised, and he had a small superficial injury measuring around a centimeter under his eyebrows that was not bleeding. The first aid volunteer asked the police to call an ambulance, which arrived around 30 minutes later and transferred him to the Mustapha Bacha hospital where he underwent head surgery because of internal bleeding. He never regained consciousness and died on Friday 19 April.
Ramzi and his friends made the 50 km trip to Algiers every Friday to join demonstrations against the country’s ruling elite and political system which started earlier this year.