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Algeria Questions Senior Bouteflika Associate on Corruption Charges

Algeria Questions Senior Bouteflika Associate on Corruption Charges

Friday, 25 October, 2019 - 10:00
The lawyers' demonstrations in downtown Algiers on Thursday, October 24, 2019 (EPA)

Former governor of Algiers Abdelkader Zoukh was granted a provisional release on Thursday by the examining magistrate of Algeria’s Supreme Court.

The Court continues its investigation into corruption charges against jailed brothers, one of whom, Moussa Benhamadi, was a minister under former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

A Supreme Court judge, who refused to be named, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Zoukh is accused of granting land concessions to the Benhamadi brothers, who own an electronic industries complex, enabling them to set up industrial facilities.

The three Benhamadi brothers, the judge explained, who have been imprisoned on corruption charges, admitted to the graft charges involving Zoukh.

Zoukh was close to the former president’s brother, Said Bouteflika, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in September.

All businessmen who benefited from the privileges were close to Bouteflika, and most of them have been in prison for the past four months.

The Supreme Court has for the fifth time granted Zoukh the provisional release although he is charged in other graft cases involving businessmen, who were influential under Bouteflika, most notably Ali Haddad and Mahieddine Tahkout.

A fourth brother from the Benhamadi family, who is a lawmaker, was to be jailed. However, parliament refused to vote on the government’s request to lift his immunity.

Former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Salal have also been in jail on corruption charges.

Dozens of lawyers marched in Algiers on Thursday, demanding the release of activists whom they have been defending.

Lawyers said these activists were jailed for participating in the nine-month protests against the ruling elite.

The rally was led by Ahmed Saie, head of Algeria’s National Association of Lawyers, in which lawyers denounced “the judges' submissions to the authority’s dictates” to jail activists.

“More than 120 people were jailed for their political stances against the authority,” said Abdelghani Bedi, one of the most prominent lawyers defending the activists.

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