British-Algerian journalist who died in custody buried
ALGIERS - Hundreds of mourners on Monday attended the funeral of a British-Algerian journalist who died while serving a two-year jail term for "offending" Algeria's president.
Mohamed Tamalt died on Sunday in hospital of a lung infection, months after being arrested and sentenced, authorities said. His lawyer said he had lapsed into a coma after being on hunger strike.
The 42-year-old blogger and freelance journalist, who ran a website from London where he lived, was charged with "offending" President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and "defaming a public authority" in a poem he shared on Facebook.
A funeral procession of mostly male mourners marched from a mosque in the working class district of Bachdjarah, where Tamalt was raised, to the local cemetery where he was buried.
Relatives and friends carried the coffin which was draped in the Algerian flag.
Bachdjarah was a former bastion of Islamists in the North African country, where a civil war in the 1990s killed at least 150,000 people, including around 100 journalists murdered by Islamists.
Tamalt's death in custody is seen as unprecedented in Algeria, and on Monday El Watan newspaper spoke of the government's "embarrassment".
Another newspaper, Liberte, said his death "will not help heal the image of a state which, when it comes to human rights, holds a very low rank".
Amnesty International has called on the Algerian authorities to open a "transparent" investigation into the circumstances of the journalist's death.
And media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has said it was "shocked" by Tamalt's death which dealt a blow to freedom of information in Algeria.
Tamalt went on hunger strike the day he was arrested near his parents' home in Algiers on June 27, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
In July, a court in the capital sentenced him two years in prison and fined him 200,000 dinars ($1,800), and a month later an appeals court upheld the ruling.
Tamalt had been in hospital since the end of August, and HRW had called for his release and for authorities to quash the case against him.