Khaled Nezzar was the Minister of Defense in Algeria and a member of the High Council of State. In addition, he was considered the most influential person within the junta between 1990 and 1994. In that period, he is suspected of having authorized and incited the army and public officials to commit countless crimes within the context of the “dirty war”, which left a grim toll of 200,000 dead and 20,000 disappeared persons in Algeria.
In 2011, during a visit to Switzerland, Khaled Nezzar was arrested in Geneva because of a report filed by TRIAL International and complaints by the two victims of torture. After being interviewed by the Swiss Federal Prosecutor, he was released on condition that he would attend the subsequent proceedings.
Khaled Nezzar later challenged in the courts the investigations conducted against him, invoking his immunity as a former Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff. In a historic decision handed down in July 2012, the Federal Criminal Court refused to grant him immunity on the grounds of the exceptional severity of the crimes. (Decision in French and English)
This case is a first for Algeria, whose law prevents army officers from being prosecuted for crimes committed during the “dirty war”. It is also the first arrest and indictment of an African former Chief of Staff based on universal jurisdiction. New complainants have joined the proceedings, which are ongoing.