15 July 2020
Two former Algerian prime ministers, Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal, have been sentenced to 15 and 12 years respectively in prison on corruption charges tied to embezzlements that involved a car parts factory and the illegal financing of an election campaign for deposed former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Prominent tycoon Ali Haddad was handed an 18-year jail term. Haddad, the founder and CEO of construction firm ETRHB and former head of Algeria’s main employers’ organisation, had been charged with illegally obtaining “privileges, advantages and public contracts” as well as conflicts of interest and squandering public funds. He was one of the main funders of Bouteflika’s election campaigns.
The 83-year-old Bouteflika, who ruled Algeria for 20 years, was forced to step down after his plans to run for a fifth term triggered widespread protests last year.
The court also sentenced 13 other former high-ranking officials of offences, including money laundering, corruption, trading in influence, and pressure on public officials to obtain privileges.
Charges against Jenaoui Fawzi and Abdel Karim Mostafa were dismissed.
Former Industry and Mines Minister Abdeslam Bouchouareb, 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 years in prison in absentia.
Said Bouteflika, 62, the brother of the past president was the real power behind the presidency after the president suffered a stroke in 2013. He 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.
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.