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Algerian Former Police Chief Convicted of Money Laundering

Algerian Former Police Chief Convicted of Money Laundering

Saturday, 27 June, 2020 - 08:00
Former police chief Abdelghani Hamel (AFP)

Former police chief Major General Abdelghani Hamel was sentenced to four years in prison over money laundering charges.

During the trial in Blida Court, the Public Prosecution charged Hamel with “laundering money that a terrorist organization has benefited from”, and the misuse of police budget funds.

The investigations also revealed that Hamel was linked to extremist groups.

Former Algiers’ police chief Noureddine Berrashdi was also convicted in the same case.

Last May, Algiers’ misdemeanor court sentenced Hamel to 15 years in prison in a corruption case, as prosecutors pursued him on charges, including money laundering and illicit wealth.

Hamel and his family are accused of owning real estate and shops in coastal areas, and his three sons have been sentenced to several years in prison.

Hamel was one of the most prominent figures of the regime of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. He has been suggested to succeed Bouteflika who was unfit to rule due to illness.

Meanwhile, the leader of Rally for Culture and Democracy, Mohcine Belabbas, said that the gendarmerie informed him that he was wanted for interrogation on Sunday.

Algiers’ Attorney General issued a statement, stating that the gendarmerie launched an investigation into the death of a Moroccan citizen in a construction site of Belabbas’ house in the southern suburb of the capital.

Investigations have revealed the deceased was working without a permit. Circumstances of his death are still unknown.

The statement also confirmed that the project manager did not obtain the needed building permits, in violation of urban development regulations.

Legally, it is not possible to pursue Belabbas given his parliamentary immunity, but the Justice Minister can lift it if the prosecution proved he committed a crime.

Observers believe that Belabbas’ issues with the authorities began after he described the presidential elections which Abdelmajid Tebboune won, as a “coup”.

The Interior Ministry sent a letter to the Rally warning it against hosting periodic meetings of Democratic Alternative Forces, formed of five opposition parties, which is deemed illegal by the authorities.

Belabbas issued a statement saying the Ministry was asking the Rally to abandon its political activities, warning that it could dissolve the party otherwise. He claimed the correspondence was leaked by the Interior Ministry through the media arms of the "political police."

The government’s warnings are considered a violation of the constitution and the laws that rule political activity of any legitimate party, added Belabbas.

He added that Rally for Culture and Democracy is first and foremost an intellectual movement and a community project that thousands of Algerians believe in.

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