Franco-Moroccans killed on jet skis: the family of Ismail Snabi, detained in Algeria, calls for his release

She has just returned from Algeria

Franco-Moroccans killed on jet skis: the family of Ismail Snabi, detained in Algeria, calls for his release

She has just returned from Algeria. Israa Snabi, 27, was finally able to see, on Tuesday, November 28, her husband Ismail, who had been detained in Maghnia prison, in the west of the country, for more than three months. Twenty minutes of talking behind glass, talking on the phone. “They added five minutes to me because I’m his wife,” she whispers. On August 29, this 27-year-old Frenchman – also of Moroccan nationality – was arrested by an Algerian coast guard unit while he was sailing on a water scooter in the company of three of his relatives.

It was around 8 p.m. when the four men, short of gasoline, got lost in the fog, in Algerian territorial waters, while they were trying to return, after a long trip at sea, to the marina of Saïdia, border town in northeastern Morocco. This error will cost them dearly: that evening, Bilal Kissi, a 28-year-old Franco-Moroccan, and Abdelali Mchiouer, a 40-year-old Moroccan national living in the Paris suburbs, were killed by gunfire attributed to the Algerian patrol. Mohamed Kissi, 33, Bilal’s brother, managed to swim away and reunite with his family in Morocco. Ismail is taken away by the coast guard.

Since his arrest on the open sea at "8:07 p.m., approximately 1.8 nautical miles [3.3 km] north of Oued Kiss", this 27-year-old automobile technical inspector, working in Bondy and living in Clichy-sous -Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis), is overwhelmed with legal proceedings.

“Refusal to comply”

According to the Algerian Ministry of Defense, the vacationers fled after being “ordered to stop,” the statement said. Faced with a “refusal to comply” and “given that this maritime border region is experiencing increased activity by drug trafficking gangs and organized crime (…) shots were fired, forcing one of the Jet-Skis to flee. immobilized, while the other two fled.” A version denied by Mohamed Kissi, who has since been heard by the French police.

On August 30, in immediate appearance, Ismail Snabi was sentenced to three months in prison for “illegal entry” into Algerian territory by the Bab El-Assa court. His wife assures us that he was presented that day, “chested and barefoot” in court. “He was out to have fun, he only had his swimsuit and a life jacket at sea,” she wants to point out. Ismail Snabi appealed, the public prosecutor too; and the sentence was confirmed during the second instance trial in Tlemcem on September 24, during which he was tried by videoconference.

And that's not all. For having crossed the maritime border without the documents for the jet ski (which belongs to Mohamed Kissi), Mr. Snabi was prosecuted for “the offense of smuggling a vehicle”. Thus, on September 6, he was sentenced to six months of imprisonment – ​​the prosecution had requested three years – and a fine of 15 million dinars (100,000 euros), or five times the value of the jet-ski , according to customs, who filed a civil suit. On appeal, once again made by Mr. Snabi and the public prosecutor, the courts, on October 1, increased the sentence to one year. Ismail Snabi did not appeal to the Court of Cassation on these two cases. “We missed the deadline,” sighs his wife. He will not be released from prison until he pays the fine. »

During these four trials, Mr. Snabi admitted to having entered Algeria “by mistake”. When asked about "his attempt to escape the hands of the Algerian naval forces", he replied: "It was the result of fear", we can read in the judgment of August 30.

Judicial relentlessness

In her modest apartment in Clichy-sous-Bois, Israa Snabi does not know how to cope with the absence of the father of her three boys. The last one will be 2 years old on December 5th. Over and over again, she repeats that she does not understand why her husband suffered such legal harassment and such severe sentences. Algerian lawyers stressed that he had been prosecuted for “two offenses for the same act”, had no record and that the court should consider his navigation error as a mitigating circumstance. Nothing happened.

“Is it because he is also Moroccan that he is in prison? », asks Israa Snabi, in reference to the diplomatic tensions between Algiers and Rabat for two years. Born in Beni Drar, near Oujda, not far from the Algerian border, Ismail Snabi arrived in France "at the age of 6 months", according to his older brother, Jamal, who was able to visit him in prison several times. times. “This summer, he returned to Morocco with his French passport. He does not have a Moroccan passport. It’s a Frenchman who is currently imprisoned,” recalls Israa Snabi.

In the four written judgments that Le Monde was able to consult, Ismail Snabi is presented as a “binational” residing in both Morocco and France. “That’s not true, he lives in Clichy-sous-Bois,” corrects Israa Snabi. She herself, of Algerian origin, had to apply for an Algerian passport to be able to visit her husband. “My visa application was refused with my French papers,” she explains with annoyance. “Our father was even born in Algeria in 1951,” emphasizes Jamal Snabi.

According to his relatives, Ismail Snabi shares his cell with around twenty people. “He told me that he sometimes sleeps on the floor,” sighs his wife. Today he is not well. He has lost around twenty kilos, although he is a bit “bouboule”. It's even his nickname. I will do everything to get him out. »

“France does nothing”

Israa Snabi wrote to Catherine Colonna, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to be received. A request that remained unanswered: “I went to the Quai d’Orsay twice with my children,” she assures, “but I was unable to see anyone. » The mother also sent a letter to Emmanuel Macron, who replied to her, on November 17, through his chief of staff, Rodrigue Furcy: “Attentive to your approach, I did not fail to remind your expectations [to Ms. Colonna] that I had previously captured. » “Yes, but France does nothing,” she summarizes. My husband did not even receive a visit from the consul in prison. »

Asked by Le Monde, a diplomatic source assures that “the services of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs are carefully monitoring the situation of Mr. Snabi, in close collaboration with his family. As part of the consular protection that any French person detained abroad can benefit from, several requests have been sent to the competent authorities so that our national can benefit from a consular visit.

Israa Snabi is demanding the release of her husband and for France, their country, to become more involved. She has just hired a lawyer to “have him repatriated so that he can serve his sentence as close as possible to us,” she says discouraged. But just saying this sentence hurts me since he didn't do anything. He got lost at sea, that happens. »

Israa Snabi wants to soon organize a rally in front of the mayor of Clichy-sous-Bois “so that we don’t forget her”.