Cheb Mami, who performed with Sting on Desert Rose, was arrested in Paris this week after two years on the run in Algeria. He went on trial last week, charged with attempting to have his ex-girlfriend undergo a forced abortion. He faced 10 years in jail and a 150.000 euro fine if found guilty of the assault on his former companion, a 43-year-old magazine photographer. Mami told the court in Arabic that he felt “trapped” by the woman and his controlling manager and that he fled to escape the pressures of his entourage. He skipped bail and fled to north Africa in 2007. Interpol in January formally asked Algiers to hand him over to Paris. He has not performed since the scandal broke and has started a new career as a real estate investor. Mami’s former manager Maurice Levy — who the singer accuses of organising the botched abortion — is standing trial on the same charges. Cheb Mami was finally sentenced to five years in prison on Thursday (July 2nd). The Bobigny court found Cheb Mami – whose real name is Mohamed Khelifati – guilty on a variety of charges, including accessory to abduction, false imprisonment, violence, administration of harmful substances, threats, and intimidation directed at his former lover, magazine photographer Isabelle Simon. Also sentenced in connection with the crime were manager Michel Levy (four years), Kader Lallali (six years) and Hicham Lazhar (three years). Lallali and Lazhar were sentenced in absentia. Isabelle Simon was awarded 95,000 euros in damages. It also emerged during the trial that Mami offered- through Michel Levy – to pay Isabelle Simon to dissuade her from filing a complaint. The singer then suggested she have an abortion in the United Kingdom – for which he was prepared to spend 100,000 euros – in order to avoid becoming the father of “an illegitimate child”.
It was in Bobigny, in Seine-Saint-Denis, that the boy from Saida embarked on his international career in 1986. Twenty-three years on, it was at a court in Bobigny, just a stone’s throw from the hall where he used to sing, that he was put on trial and sentenced.
Source: AFP, El Watan

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