The Algerian government was forced to break its silence after nearly a month of media speculation and political controversy over allegations of senior government officials being involved in smuggling of over 700 kilograms of cocaine, a shipment seized by the Coast Guard on May 29 at sea.
The shipment was seized en route from the port of Valencia, Spain, to the port of Oran in western Algeria.
Justice Minister Tayeb Louh told journalists that prosecution ordered the arrest of 12 suspects in the drug case.
It is worth noting that drugs were boarded on back of a Liberian ship from Brazil, which also transported tons of red meat, imported by a well-known Algerian businessman.
Among those arrested in the case are the cargo owner, Kamal Shekhi, as well as two of his brothers and one of his partners in large real estate projects.
The Justice Minister threatened legal action against media outlets publishing rumors on judges assigned to the case being compromised, receiving bribes and exploiting their positions to win over Shekhi’s favor.
“They are innocent and have been slandered because of the publication of their names in the press, which has caused them and their families moral harm, and they have the right to launch legal proceedings against those who insulted them, namely journalists,” the minister said.
Louh also made a case on a money laundering scandal being a part of the case, revealing that the value of cocaine seized stands at a whopping 70 million dollars.
Among those suspected of involvement in the second part of the case were the son of a former housing minister and a security man who worked as a personal driver for a senior police official.
The Minister of Justice stressed that Algeria’s president “will not accept impunity of anyone who is found involved in this case.”
“As minister, I will ensure that the law takes its course in this case,” Louh said.