These are the biggest heads yet to roll in Algeria, as the military court in Blida handed down a 15-year sentence to:
- Saïd, brother of deposed President Abdelaziz Bouteflika,
- Former spy chief Mohamed Mediene known as “Toufik”
- Athmane Tartag, Mediene’s successor at the head of the intelligence agency,
- Secretary General of the Workers’ Party (PT, Trotskyists) Louisa Hanoune
The Tribunal also sentenced the former Minister of Defence and former Chief of Staff of the Army Khaled Nezzar, his son Lotfi, and Farid Benhamdine, manager of the Algerian Society of Pharmacy, to 20 years’ imprisonment, all three tried in absentia in the same case, according to the official Algerian agency APS.
The Blida prosecutor’s office demanded on Tuesday 20 years’ imprisonment for Saïd Bouteflika, who had established himself as the regime’s strong man and for the other defendants tried in this trial, which opened on Monday far from the cameras. Only lawyers and the families of the accused have the right to attend hearings.
This emblematic trial takes place after a wave of massive arrests in the entourage of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to resign in early April after months of an unprecedented protest movement.
Judicial investigations were then opened into alleged corruption targeting former senior politicians and businessmen accused of taking advantage of their privileged links with Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s regime.
Accused of conspiring against the army
The fallen president’s brother and the two former intelligence bosses were jailed on May 5. Louisa Hanoune, head of the PT (Trotskyist), was remanded in custody four days later.
Her defence lawyers had admitted that she had participated in a meeting with Said Bouteflika and General “Toufik” on 27 March 2019, the day after a statement by the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Ahmed Gaïd Salah, publicly requesting Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s departure.
- A few days later, General Gaïd Salah accused, without naming them, Said Bouteflika and Generals Mediene and Tartag of plotting against the army.
While the trial was being held in Blida, the students again took to the streets of major cities, including Algiers, for the 31st consecutive week, expressing their opposition to the organization of a presidential election on 12 December, as called for by the Chief of the Defence Staff Ahmed Gaïd Salah, the country’s current strong man.
This piece first appeared in Jeune Afrique.
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