Algerian jailed for breaking Ramadan fast

An Algerian court sentenced a young man to two years in prison for breaking the fast of the holy month of Ramadan late in August, the daily El-Watan reported Thursday.

Bouchouta Fares, 27, who was brought to trial at Oum El Bouaghi, 500 kilometres southeast of Algiers, was also fined to a fine of 100,000 dinars ($1,359 dollars) Monday for "breaching a precept of Islam," the report said.

Islam is the state religion in the north African country.

Acting on a tip-off, police in the town close to Ain el Beida carried out a raid on an abandoned building in the town centre, looking for a group of people breaking the fast. All of them fled with the exception of Fares, who was taken into custody, the paper said.

El-Watan noted that sentences varied radically from one court to another for the same offence.

Two Christians who were breaking the fast were acquitted on October 5 at Ain el Hammam in the northeast of Algeria, where the prosecutor had asked that they be jailed for three years.

A judge in this Kabylie region rejected the case on the grounds that "no article (of law) provides for legal action" if the Ramadan fast is broken.

Another trial is scheduled for November 8 at Akbou, also in the Kabylie region, where nine people accused of breaking the fast will be brought to court.

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