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Algerian military regime trial against Bouteflika's power circle begins today Open in fullscreen

Gaia Caramazza

Algerian military regime trial against Bouteflika's power circle begins today

Date of publication: 23 September, 2019

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In the second political trial of its kind, allies of deposed President Abdelaziz Bouteflika are being charged by Algeria's military regime of treason among widespread protests.
The second political trial in the history of Algeria's military rule took place on Monday and saw former top-level intelligence chiefs, and deposed president Abdelaziz Boutelika's brother accused of conspiring against the regime.

The army commander, General Ahmad Qaid Saleh, accused the detainees of "organising suspicious meetings held in secret in order to conspire against the demands of the people".

Former Defence Minister Khaled Nezzar alleged that the former president’s brother had planned on ousting the army chief by declaring a state of emergency.

The charges arose from a meeting held in late March where the defendants gathered to discuss backing a new presidential body led by former President Liamine Zeroual betwen 1994 and 1999. 

The meeting in question took place only a day after Gaid Salah publicly called for ailing Bouteflika to step down.

After Abdelaziz Bouteflika's debilitating stroke in 2013, Said gained a reputation as the real power behind the presidency.

If charged, he could join the rest of the accused in facing lengthy prison sentences.

The trial comes after a series of unprecedented charges against high-profile political figures associated with the Bouteflika’s regime.

General Mohammed Mediene who headed the all-powerful secret service for more than 25 years, and fellow ex-spy chief General Athmane Tartag, were key political figures that Algerians never expected to see on the stand in the military court of Blida, 60 kilometres south of the capital. 
The last trial of this kind political importance during Algeria’s military rule occurred in 1992, accusing the Islamic Salvation Front of violating state security and advocating a rebellion.

The Workers' Party leader and three-time presidential candidate, Louisa Hanoune, was charged with similar charges in May and her lawyers have since acknowledged that she took part in a meeting with Said Bouteflika and Mediene.

Meanwhile, the Algerian Supreme Court ruled to imprison Boudjemaa Tala, the third Bouteflika minister jailed in less than a week.

The head of the former president's party was also detained Thursday and accused of "destroying official documents" and issuing "threats", Algerian public radio reported.

The last trial of this kind political importance during Algeria's military rule occurred in 1992, accusing the Islamic Salvation Front of violating state security and advocating a rebellion.

The issue of Algeria's leadership and political transparency as been a topic of tense discussion in the past months.

Since Boutaflika was deposed in April, General Saleh's rule has sparked widespread accusations of corruption, and tens of thousands of protesters the streets of Algiers calling for his removal.

"The people want the fall of Gaid Salah," the protesters chanted, as reported by Al Jazeera. "Take us all to prison, the people will not stop."

Adlene Kada, a 23-year-old protester said: "We will not stop marching. It is a unique opportunity to change this corrupt system." 

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