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The New Arab Staff

Algerian ex- prime ministers sentenced to 12 years for corruption during Bouteflika’s election campaign

The two ex-PMs were sentenced to 12 years in prison [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 July, 2020

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The Algerian elite have been culled as key figures have been jailed on corruption charges.
Two former Algerian prime ministers have been sentenced to 12 years in prison on corruption charges, as President Abdelmadjid Tebboune continues culling former regime figures from his ranks.

The court of Sidi Mhamed in Algiers sentenced former Prime Ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal over a case tied to embezzlements that involved a car parts factory and the illegal financing of an election campaign for deposed former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The court also sentenced 13 other former high-ranking officials to years-long jail terms for a plethora of offences, including money laundering, corruption, trading in influence, and pressure on public officials to obtain privileges.

The two ex-prime ministers were sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Charges against two of the 17 defendents were dismissed, whilst two politicians were sentenced to 20 years, according to the Algerian Press Service.

Jenaoui Fawzi and Abdel Karim Mostafa were acquitted.

Key political figures were also in the firing line, such as former Industry and Mines Minister Abdeslam Bouchouareb, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

He fled the country and remains at large, with his Algeria property confiscated and an international arrest warrant issued against him.

Former CEO of Algeria’s public bank, Crédit populaire d' Algeria, Omar Boudhiab, and another former industry minister, Youcef Yousfi, received three years each.

Mourad and Khider Oulmi, the brothers who run SOVAC were hit with ten and seven years jail terms respectively.

Mourad's wife Fatiha Benmoussa received the longest sentence, with the court sentencing her to 20 in prison in absentia.

During his trial, Ouyahia defended himself and said two days ago he was "running the government and was scrutinising every detail, especially those related to grants for deals and projects".

"I did not run the government over the phone. I had an eye on everyone and I was signing papers, but I trust my government's ministers because I am not an expert in everything," he added.

Clampdown on corruption

Newly elected President Tebboune vowed to put an end to government corruption endemic under former president Bouteflika.

An Algerian military court in February upheld a 15-year prison term for the brother of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika and two ex-intelligence chiefs convicted of conspiracy against the state, a lawyer said.

The once mighty Said Bouteflika, 62, was long seen as the real power behind the presidency after his brother suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013.

He had served as a key presidential aide but was detained in May last year, a month after Bouteflika quit office weeks into mass protests against his bid for a fifth presidential term.

In September Said Bouteflika, along with several other senior regime officials, was sentenced by a military tribunal to 15 years in jail for "conspiring" against the state and undermining the army's authority.

Anti-government protests erupted shortly after Tebboune, who served Bouteflika’s government in a number of roles, was elected president.

Many Algerians criticised his appointment, arguing he came from the old elite.

The Algerian government has been arresting activists and journalists in what many are calling a targeted attack on dissent on the pretext of Coronavirus lockdown measures.

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