Politics & Economics

Former Algerian Officials Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Corruption

North Africa

Sa'eed Bouteflika, the brother of former long-standing President Abduleziz Bouteflika, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

A number of other individuals have also been sentenced alongside Sa’eed Bouteflika, including Mohamed Mediene dit Toufik, the head of the Algerian secret services for the past 25 years, his successor Bachir Athmane Tartag, head of the country’s Labour Party, Louisa Hanoune, all arrested in early May, and Tayeb Belaiz, ex-President of the Constitutional Council. All are considered to have links with the former President.

Those present at the trial, which took place at the Military Court in the town of Blida, just south-east of the capital Algiers, have been sentenced for 15 years, while those who are absent have been given 20-year jail terms. The latter includes General Khaled Nazzar, the former Defence Minister, his son Lotfi, and Belhamdine Farid, a businessman who heads the Algerian Pharmacy Association, who have all fled abroad.

All of the aforementioned individuals have been sentenced for “plotting against the authority of the state” and “attacking the authority of the army”.

The temporary political authorities in power during Algeria’s transition phase in the post-Bouteflika era have claimed that they are fighting the forces of corruption of the former regime. Even if this may be part of the case, the aforementioned individuals, in the eyes of the current government, formed a “gang” that represented a threat to their authority. Those currently in power mainly hail from the military guard, headed by Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah. The current interim President is President Abdelkader Bensalah, who recently announced that elections will take place in Algeria on 12 December.

That announcement has nevertheless been met by weekly protests. Protesters believe that the military figures in power are attempting to entrench their political influence. Despite the peaceful nature of the protests and the non-violent response in the initial phase, the interim government has been forceful in clamping down on protesters, with reports of widespread arbitrary arrests, as well as arrests of prominent civil society and political figures, and blocking access to public spaces.