Algeria court acquits disgraced former president Bouteflika's brother of obstructing judiciary charges
The Criminal Court of Appeal in Algiers acquitted Said Bouteflika - the brother of disgraced former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika - of obstructing the judiciary on Tuesday, the Algeria News Agency reported.
The acquittal occurred following a three-day trial which saw Bouteflika, who was advisor to his late brother, cleared of charges in a case involving former Justice Minister Tayeb Louh and business tycoon Ali Haddad.
In October last year, Bouteflika was handed a two-year prison sentence after being convicted of several charges including "abuse of office", "inciting the falsification of official documents", "obstruction of justice" and "contempt of court".
The former Justice Minister was found guilty of the same charges, and was sentenced to six years in prison in 2021. Louh has now had his sentence halved, and has been ordered to pay 200,000 Algerian Dinars ($1,500).
This is the second time that the former president’s brother has been cleared of criminal charges.
The 64-year-old was previously arrested in May 2019 and sentenced to 15 years for "plotting against the state and the army" during the final days of his deposed brother's rule.
In January last year he was acquitted of those charges by a military appeals court, but was handed to a civil court to face trial on corruption charges.
Autocratic former president Bouteflika was forced to step down following mass protests against him in the North African country.
The protests, which started in February 2019, also called for the removal of power-brokers and ministers close to Bouteflika’s administration, including Said, who was said to have had considerable influence during his brother’s presidency.
Algerian authorities regularly arrest and detain activists and journalists. Among those detained were Karim Tabbou and Khaled Drareni, who was arrested and sentenced in 2020 for "inciting demonstrations" and "attacking national unity".
Several activists, notably those who participated in the Hirak protests, are still languishing behind bars, according to rights groups.
In a similar case, Egypt acquitted former autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s sons Gamal and Alaa, of stock market manipulation and embezzlement charges in February 2020.