Published: Wed, December 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Former Algerian senior officials subject to heavy sentences in corruption charges

Former Algerian senior officials subject to heavy sentences in corruption charges

Many officials and businessmen had prospered under the Bouteflika regime were arrested and put on trial but this did not stop the protests. All are considered "children of the system", having either supported Bouteflika or participated in his government - two as ministers and two as prime ministers.

Ahmed Ouyahia, who was prime minister four times, received a 15-year jail sentence and Abdelmalek Sellal, who was twice premier, was jailed for 12 years.

Its chief of staff, Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah, is now Algeria's most powerful figure and sees the election of a new president as the best way to draw a line under a year of tumult and refresh the enduring political order.

The five presidential candidates, approved by the state, are former prime ministers Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Ali Benflis, ex-culture minister Azzedddine Mihoubi, former tourism minister Abdelkader Bengrine, and Abdelaziz Belaid, a party leader.

Two former Prime Ministers of Algeria were convicted and sentenced to prison on Tuesday for corruption-related charges in a landmark trial, unleashing cheers of joy from pro-democracy activists who want an overhaul of the gas-rich country's political system. Ouyahia and Sellal were among 19 defendants tried on charges of money laundering, abuse of office, and granting undue privileges in the vehicle assembly industry. Several other former ministers were given heavy sentences in the corruption case involving automobile manufacturing.

The court also sentenced Former Minister of Industry and Mines Youcef Yousfi to 10 years in prison. But the high-profile prosecutions have done little to win over the protesters, who have continued to take to the streets since Bouteflika's resignation, demanding the total dismantling of the military-dominated system that has ruled Algeria since independence.

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"It is a historic trial", Law Professor, Rachid Lerari said.

Both served under long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Instead, the army has pushed for an election to pick a replacement for Bouteflika, saying it is the only route to resolving the political crisis.

Undeterred by the move, hundreds of thousands of protesters turned up to last Friday's demonstrations across the country denouncing the elections and chanting slogans such as "no to voting" and "no retreat". The five candidates in the poll have run low-key campaigns.

After two years of rigged elections, few in Algeria are convinced by assurances from an administration still controlled by Bouteflika loyalists that the poll will be fair and transparent.

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