Judged on appeal since March 1 for their involvement in corruption cases, former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal were sentenced on Wednesday March 25 by the Algiers court of appeal, which confirmed the sentences handed down at first instance. , indicated the information site Tout Sur l’Algérie (TSA). The ex-officials were prosecuted in connection with cases relating to automobile assembly factories and the secret financing of the presidential campaign for the fifth term of ousted President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
On December 10, 2019, the court in Sidi M’Hamed sentenced Ahmed Ouyahia to a term of 15 years in prison, together with a fine of two million dinars (15,200 euros), while Abdelmalek Sellal was sentenced 12 years in prison and a fine of one million dinars (7,600 euros).
Reduction of sentences for others
The appeals court, however, eased the sentences of ex-ministers Mahdjoub Bedda and Youcef Yousfi, as well as those of the most influential Bouteflika-era oligarchs, Ali Haddad, Ahmed Maâzouz and Mohamed Bairi.
Thus, the two ministers saw their sentences reduced from ten to five years. Those of Ali Haddad and Ahmed Maâzouz went from seven to four years. And finally, Mohamed Bairi was sentenced to three years instead of the six years decided at first instance.
Against the background of repeated calls by the former Algerian Minister of Information Abdelaziz Rahabi to try the ex-head of state, at least “symbolically”, the two former prime ministers Abdelmalek Sellal and Ahmed Ouyahia had asked the judge during their appeal trial to call Abdelaziz Bouteflika as a witness.
Minister Rahabi’s appeals
In an intervention Thursday (February 27th) on the satellite channel El Bilad TV, Mr. Rahabi called for the trial of Abdelaziz Bouteflika for his responsibility in the corruption and squandering of the public funds that spread throughout the country during his 20 years in power.
“The president of the Republic [Abdelaziz Bouteflika, ndlr] has a responsibility in corruption, he covered it, “he said. And to recall that “former prime ministers [Ahmed Ouyahia et Abdelmalek Sellal, ndlr] said before the judge that they had granted credits [non remboursés à des oligarques, ndlr] by order of the President of the Republic [Abdelaziz Bouteflika, ndlr]”
The Algerian Constitution amended and adopted in 2016 stipulates in its article 177 that “a High Court of the State is instituted to know the acts which can be qualified as high treason of the President of the Republic, crimes and offenses of the Prime Minister, committed in the exercise of their functions ”. However, Prime Ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal, as well as Youssef Yousfi who also held this interim position, for lack of this High State Court, were tried at first instance and on appeal by an ordinary court, that of Sidi M’Hamed in Algiers.
The Prime Minister’s scathing statement
Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad described the management of the country under ousted President Abdelaziz Bouteflika as “catastrophic” when he presented his government’s plan to the Algerian National People’s Assembly on Tuesday (February 11th).
“Algeria has experienced in recent years a catastrophic management of the state as well as authoritarian practices that have led to the looting and dilapidation of the country’s wealth and the systematic destruction of its institutions and economy in the aim to grab his goods, “said Mr. Djerad, reports the official Algeria Press Service (APS) agency.
“These practices have resulted in the marginalization of national, sincere and honest competences, thus destabilizing the very foundations of the state and threatening the unity of the people,” he said.