Compass Direct News (CDN) is reporting that the conviction of a Christian convert for insulting the prophet of Islam, a judge in Algeria last week stunned the Christian community by sentencing him beyond what a prosecutor recommended.
|Algerian Christians parade with the cross|
CDN said that in Oran, 470 kilometers (292 miles) west of Algiers, a criminal court in the city’s Djamel district on Wednesday (May 25) sentenced Siaghi Krimo to a prison term of five years for giving a CD about Christianity to a neighbor who subsequently claimed he had insulted Muhammad.
“Krimo was also fined 200,000 Algerian dinars (US$2,760), according to Algerian news reports,” said CDN.
The prosecutor had reportedly requested the judge sentence him to a two-year prison sentence and a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars (US$690).
“He gave a CD to a neighbor, and for that he has to spend five years in prison,” said the president of the Protestant Church of Algeria, Mustapha Krim, trying to contain his disbelief.
|An Algerian worship group|
Defense lawyer Mohamed Ben Belkacem told Compass that the judge’s verdict was unexpected and heavy, indicating the legal system’s prejudice against Christians.
“The lawyer said he plans to appeal the case,” said the CDN story. “Krimo is not required to serve his prison sentence until the court hears his appeal and upholds the conviction.
“The court delivered its verdict the same week that the governor of the province of Bejaia ordered the closing of seven Protestant churches. Over the weekend (May 27-29) authorities did not interfere with the scheduled worship meetings in the district of Bejaia despite the order for all the churches of the area to close and threats that police could use force.
There are more than 99,000 Christians in Algeria, less than 0.3 percent of the total population of 35.4 million people, according to Operation World. Muslims make up more than 97 percent of the population.