Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Algeria sentenced ex-minister, MP to 8 years prison in corruption cases

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A court in Algiers convicted two of the most prominent figures of the former regime and began the trial of a third, on major corruption charges, which previously led to the imprisonment of dozens of top civil and military officials to prison.

Sidi Mhamed Court of Algiers sentenced former Minister of National Solidarity Djamel Ould Abbes and MP Bahaa Eddine Tliba to eight years in prison for several cases relating to corruption and breaching of capital movement to and from abroad.

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President Abdelmadjid Tebboune made it a priority to recover public funds that were stolen and launched an initiative with French authorities to confiscate the funds of some officials in French banks.

Ould Abbas’s younger son, Skandar, was also found guilty in the same case. The judge sentenced his eldest son, who resides abroad, to 20 years in prison and issued an international warrant for his arrest.

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The case overlaps with another case, relating to misusing funds earmarked for the handicapped and groups classified as very poor, granted each year by the Ministry of Solidarity.

Security investigations revealed that Ould Abbas, along with his sons and the ministry’s former secretary-general Khalladi Bouchnak, had forged the documents of private projects, when he was a minister between 2003 and 2004.

The second case, which has stirred controversy, relates to Tliba’s accusation of offering bribes in exchange for placing him at the top of the list of National Liberation Front candidates during the 2017 parliamentary elections.

Tliba assured the judge that he refused to pay Skandar a large sum, as requested by his father to collect money from the candidates. Skandar said his father was acting on orders from Said Bouteflika, brother of the former President Abdulaziz Bouteflika.

According to Ould Abbas, Bouteflika asked candidates to pay bribes, denying all accusations attributed to him. Tliba denied that he had paid money for his candidacy.

Tliba paid huge sums campaigning for Bouteflika over the past 20 years, and Ould Abbas was among the most enthusiastic about his plan to seek a fifth term, which was toppled by the popular movement that broke out in February last year.

Meanwhile, the judiciary began the trial of the former Minister of Solidarity, Saeed Barakat, on charges relating to the management of his sector’s funds.

The defendant said that his predecessor, Ould Abbas, left a legacy of mismanagement and tampering with treasury funds.

Barakat was loyal to the former president, and in return for his loyalty, Bouteflika named him among his bloc in the National Assembly, where dozens of unelected parliamentarians benefit from substantial financial concessions.

The trial of the Koninav brothers, four businessmen who were arrested on charges of illicit profiteering, began on Wednesday. The Koninav family had a special relationship with Bouteflika, which allowed them to win large projects in the country, and they offered great financial support for the president during his rule.

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