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Raï singer Cheb Mami jailed for five years

Article published on the 2009-07-04 Latest update 2009-07-05 07:48 TU

Cheb Mami in 2007(Photo: AFP)

Cheb Mami in 2007
(Photo: AFP)

Franco-Algerian singer Cheb Mami has been condemned to five years in jail for forcing his former lover to have an abortion in 2005. His manager Michel Lévy received a four-year sentence for his role in the crime.

Mami, whose real name is Mohamed Khelifati, wept on hearing the verdict. Towards the end of the trial he apologised for his role in the affair.

His lawyer, Claire Doubliez, claims that he is sorry for what happened.

"It is apparent that the years which have passed are years which have forced him to think things through," she said. "The fact that he can't put a certain number of things into words doesn't mean that he does or doesn't feel them."

The court decided that Cheb Mami was the principal instigator and organiser of the forced abortion, although it also jailed his manager, Michel Lecorre also known as Michel Lévy, whom Cheb Mami blamed for the action.

Lévy was imprisoned for four years, while two other men, who are in hiding in Algeria, were given sentences of two to six years.

The woman involved, whose name has not been made public, told the court what had happened to her.

"They insulted me," she said. "They threw me on the mattress and tore off my pants....I was given three shots with needles, one woman pressed against my stomach and the other put her hand in my vagina and started scraping."

"She wanted recognition of the unheard-of violence which she experienced," her lawyer Marie Dosé said. "She wasn"t at all looking for revenge. She feels that with a decision like this, the fact that it was an extremely serious act has been recognised."

Cheb Mami has topped the charts several times in France and won wider recognition when he sang Desert Rose with Sting in 2001.

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