Senior Algerian Judicial Official Remanded in Custody

Said Bouteflika (C)
Said Bouteflika (C)

Algeria’s Supreme Court on Sunday placed a former senior justice ministry official in custody on corruption charges.

The examining magistrate ordered the imprisonment of Tayeb Ben Hashem, the former inspector general of the ministry of justice, a Supreme Court source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

According to the source, Ben Hashem was sentenced on corruption charges during former Minister of Justice Tayeb Louh’s tenure (2014-2019). Louh has been in prison for the past two months.

The source also explained that Ben Hashem has been questioned about “covering up many corruption cases at Louh’s command during the last few years of Bouteflika’s rule.”

The Supreme Court has accused Louh on the same charges.

There are several corruption cases against members of the ruling elite who were protected from judicial persecution thanks to the intervention of large parties.

Since Bouteflika’s overthrow on April 2, the judiciary has imprisoned former premiers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal and several ministers and businessmen.

The military judiciary has sentenced Bouteflika’s brother, Saeed Bouteflika, the two former intelligence chiefs, General Mohamed Mediene, aka Toufik, and Athmane Tartag, and Labor Party leader Louisa Hanoune, to 15 years in prison.

The former defense minister, his son and a businessman were also sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison. The three of them are now refugees in Spain.

Algeria’s judiciary has also issued arrest warrants against Baha-Eddine Tliba, who currently resides in Britain according to a local newspaper, France-based former minister of industry Abdesselam Bouchouareb and US-based former energy minister Chakib Khelil.

Army Chief of Staff General Ahmed Gaid Salah, who was a key pillar of Bouteflika’s rule, is behind these arrest warrants and the imprisonment of key figures under the former president’s rule.

Meanwhile, parties loyal to Bouteflika are trying to return to the political scene by running in the presidential elections scheduled for December.

One such party is the Rally of Algerian Hope (TAJ). It says its national council will announce the details of its participation in the polls.

The party is led by former minister of public works Amar Ghoul, who has been in custody on corruption charges. It is now temporarily led by lawamker Abdel Halim Abdel Wahab.

However, Minister of Environment and Renewable Energy Fatma Zohra Zerouati is seeking to take over TAJ’s presidency.