Brother of Algeria's Bouteflika, ex-spy bosses in custody

2019-05-06 05:33
Abdelaziz Bouteflika (File: AFP)

Abdelaziz Bouteflika (File: AFP)

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An Algerian military judge on Sunday remanded the powerful brother of deposed president Abdelaziz Bouteflika and two former intelligence chiefs in custody on charges including "conspiring" against the state, prosecutors said.

The arrests of Said Bouteflika, General Mohamed Mediene and Athmane Tartag on Saturday were the highest-profile legal moves against loyalists of the ex-leader since he resigned last month in the face of mass protests and pressure from the army.

Military prosecutors in the southern town of Blida said in a statement the men had been placed under provisionary detention Sunday on accusations of "undermining the authority of the army" and "conspiring against the authority of the state".

State television interrupted its regular programming to broadcast a special news bulletin showing the trio being brought to court, scenes that were unimaginable to most Algerians just weeks ago.

Said Bouteflika, 61, was widely seen as the real power behind the presidency after his brother suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013.

Mediene, known as Toufik, headed the all-powerful secret service for 25 years and Tartag served as intelligence coordinator.

The charges for which they are being investigated are punishable by prison terms of between five and 10 years.

Over a month after the departure of Bouteflika on April 2 huge demonstrations are ongoing in the North African country with people demanding the removal of regime insiders.

'A final warning'

Algeria's army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah has become a key powerbroker since breaking with president Bouteflika and pushing for him to go.

Gaid Salah has in recent weeks accused Mediene of being involved in a plot against Algeria.

In mid-April he gave what he called "a final warning" to the former intelligence chief whom he accused of conspiring to "hinder solutions to ending the crisis" in the protest-hit country.

Gaid Salah had helped Abdelaziz Bouteflika to neuter the DRS intelligence agency, which was long considered a "state within a state".

Tartag - described by Algerian media as close to the former president's brother - was fired just after Bouteflika's resignation.

Algeria's former defence minister Khaled Nezzar meanwhile has recently claimed that Said Bouteflika wanted to declare a state of emergency and had considered firing Gaid Salah, ahead of the president's resignation.

The arrests of Said Bouteflika and the two ex-spy bosses were the latest to target the former president's inner circle and country's ruling elite.

Five powerful and wealthy businessmen, including the country's richest man Issad Rebrab, have been detained over suspected corruption.

Former prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia was on Tuesday questioned at court in the centre of the capital Algiers, as part of the ongoing corruption probe.

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Read more on:    abdelaziz bouteflika  |  algeria  |  north africa
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