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Algerian Judiciary Considers Hearing Testimony of Bouteflika’s Brother

Algerian Judiciary Considers Hearing Testimony of Bouteflika’s Brother

Saturday, 1 August, 2020 - 08:45
Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s brother Said Bouteflika.
Algiers - Boualem Goumrassa

The Algerian judiciary has been considering a request to summon former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s brother, Said, from the military prison to hear his testimony on issues mentioned during his trial.

The request has been submitted by the defense team of one of the former regime’s prominent figures, who is on trial on corruption charges.

The defense team of Algeria’s former Police Chief Abdelghani Hamel told reporters that they had filed a petition to the Appeals Court demanding Bouteflika’s summoning.

They said Hamel accuses Bouteflika of sacking him in a phone call.

According to Hamel, Said ordered the Interior Minister to dismiss Hamel in June 2017 following statements in which he insulted then Gendarmerie Commander General Ghali Belkecir.

Hamel was fired due to a cocaine trafficking scandal in western Algeria, and his son’s name came up in the Gendarmerie’s probes.

Lawyers said the magistrate in charge of his trial had promised to review the request.

“The magistrate cannot allow Said to be brought from his prison without the consent of the state’s influential figures,” one of the lawyers told Asharq Al-Awsat, noting that these figures won’t wish to hear scandals Said would tell.

Bouteflika’s brother was summoned by a court in September 2019 as a witness in the trial of businessmen and former officials on corruption charges involving millions of dollars in funding for his brother's aborted campaign.

Said was sentenced in September, along with several other high-level regime officials, to 15 years in jail for “conspiring” against the state and undermining the authority of the army.

He gave his name in court but refused to respond to questions by the judge or a prosecutor.

The judge ordered that he be sent back to the military prison in Blida where he is serving his sentence.

Said’s refusal to testify was said to be due to his fear of retaliation by Army Commander Lieutenant General Gaid Saleh, who died of a heart attack in late 2019.

Observers believe Said has nothing to lose once summoned on Hamel’s case, adding that he would tell the court all what he knows.

Hamel was sentenced to 15 years in prison in a corruption case.

He 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.

He was one of the most prominent figures of Bouteflika’s regime and has been suggested to succeed Bouteflika who was unfit to rule due to illness.

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