Saturday, October 31, 2020

Algeria: Former police chief, his family jailed for corruption

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An Algerian court issued heavy prison sentences Wednesday to a powerful former police chief and his family for illicit gains and misappropriation of land, local media reported.

Abdelghani Hamel, a former national security director-general, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being detained since last July. Prosecutors had demanded a 20-year sentence.

His four children received sentences ranging from seven to ten years, while his wife Lanani Salima was sentenced to two years in prison.

Hamel, the principal defendant, denied the accusations against him.

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The trial revealed that Hamel and his family had amassed an immense fortune and illegally acquired numerous homes and properties across Algeria.

The prosecutor sought the confiscation of the family’s wealth.

Once considered a potential successor to now-ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Hamel was fired unexpectedly in June 2018 amid a drug trafficking scandal.

Hamel, a retired gendarme general, was questioned in May 2019 in a drug trafficking case involving 700 kilogrammes (1,540 pounds) of cocaine, in which senior officials, magistrates, generals and politicians were implicated.

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Two former ministers were each sentenced to three years in prison in the case.

Meanwhile, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune pardoned 5,037 prisoners on Wednesday, but the amnesty was not extended to the dozens of supporters of the “Hirak” anti-government protest movement currently in detention.

The clemency will affect prisoners over 60 who have less than 18 months remaining in their sentence, according to a statement by the presidency carried by the official APS agency.

Tebboune previously pardoned nearly 10,000 prisoners in February.

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