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ICC NOTE: In September 2005, Algerians voted in a referendum to grant amnest to Islamic fighters imprisoned during Algeria’s civil conflict, in exchange for peace. Many of these militants were responsible for the murder of innocent Christians, specifically Catholic clergy members and monks.

Algeria amnesty deadline expiring

For the full article go to: BBC News

August 28 2006

A six-month amnesty offered by Algeria to Islamic militants on condition of surrender expires on Monday.

There have been calls for an extension since fewer than 300 have come forward.

Militants have been promised immunity from prosecution provided they have not been involved in serious crimes such as massacres, rapes and bombings.

A decision on an extension rests with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who is expected to rule after studying a report on the outcome of the offer.

Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem from the National Liberation Front, the main party in the governing coalition, says militants should be given more time.

But an Islamist group in the coalition, the Movement of a Peaceful Society (MSP), said it was important to respect deadlines laid down in the charter.

Charter

The amnesty was among the measures set down in a peace and reconciliation charter approved in a national referendum last September, as part of efforts to end almost 15 years of political violence in Algeria .

It came into effect in February after being approved in a referendum last year, and allowed the release of suspected militants from jail as well as amnesty for those at large who surrendered.

The amnesty has been criticized in some quarters for granting the military immunity from prosecution.

The amnesty is the second since President Abdelaziz Bouteflika took office seven years ago.

He says it will help heal Algeria ‘s wounds after years of a brutal and bloody conflict.

The conflict erupted in 1992 after the authorities annulled a general election.