Former Algerian defense minister Khaled Nezzar has been indicted in Switzerland on charges of committing crimes against humanity during the 1990s civil war in Algeria. The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) filed an indictment in the Federal Criminal Court against the 85-year-old, accusing him of coordinating torture and violating the laws of armed conflicts.
The civil war, which took place between 1992 and 2002, resulted in the deaths of up to 200,000 people. Nezzar, who was living in Switzerland at the time, had criminal proceedings opened against him in 2011 following a complaint from TRIAL International. The OAG initially abandoned the proceedings in 2017 but resumed them after an appeal by the Federal Criminal Court in 2018.
The indictment alleges that Nezzar created structures to eliminate the Islamist opposition, leading to war crimes and widespread civilian attacks. The OAG documented 11 alleged torture incidents and other cruel acts between 1992 and 1994. Nezzar will be the highest-ranking military official ever tried for such crimes based on the principle of universal jurisdiction.
The trial is expected to begin soon. The CFDA, a group advocating for the families of the disappeared in Algeria, celebrated the indictment as a “historic legal victory.”