Algiers’ Misdemeanor Court begins on Sunday the hearing of 53 witnesses in the trial of former Minister of Culture Khalida Toumi over corruption allegations under the rule of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Toumi, who served as culture minister for 12 years, is accused of squandering public funds in cultural events and awarding illegal privileges.
She became the 12th ex-minister to be detained since Bouteflika resigned in April 2019 under pressure from protesters who called for the removal of the ruling elite and the prosecution of people suspected of involvement in corruption.
Most of the witnesses are from the culture and arts sector, including department officials in charge of implementing the cultural programs, local officials and other employees in the governorates where events were held.
According to the prosecution, hundreds of billions were spent “without accountability or oversight.”
The trial began on Thursday after several delays. Toumi said that she was only implementing Bouteflika’s orders and didn’t interfere with the central management fund.
“I had nothing to do with the money that was spent during cultural events and festivals. In short, your honor, I was a minister, not an executive director,” she told the judge.
The former minister said she was a victim of media campaigns that paved the way for her arrest, without specifying the identity of those who gave the orders to launch these campaigns.