|26 May, 2019

Algeria graft prosecutor refers two ex PMs to supreme court - Ennahar

An Algerian prosecutor investigating graft has referred two former prime ministers and five former ministers to the supreme court

ALGIERS- An Algerian prosecutor investigating graft allegations has referred two former prime ministers and five former ministers to the supreme court, Ennahar TV reported on Sunday citing a statement from the prosecution.

Mass protests have broken out in Algeria demanding the removal of the ruling elite and the prosecution of people demonstrators regard as corrupt. The seven politicians will be investigated by the court over alleged corruption cases, Ennahar said, without providing details.

They include former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal who served under President Abdelaziz Bouteflika who resigned on April 2 after coming under pressure from protesters and the army.

The list of the former ministers, who are under investigation, includes Amara Benyounes, Abdelakader Zaalane, Amar Ghoul, Karim Djoudi and Abdessalam Bouchouareb.

They were in charge of the sectors of trade, transport, public works, finance and industry respectively.

Their lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.

The army is now the most powerful institution after the departure of Bouteflika, who had ruled the North African country since 1999.

Army chief of staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah has said major corruption cases would be pursued to try to appease the protests that started on Feb.22.

Bouteflika's youngest brother, Said, and two former intelligence chiefs have been placed in custody by a military judge over "harming the army's authority and plotting against state authority."

At least five prominent businessmen have also been detained pending trial over involvement in corruption cases.

Protesters also want the resignation of interim president Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Beoui, who are considered as part of the ruling elite that has run the country since independence from France in 1962.

(Reporting by Omar Fahmy, Hamid Ould Ahmed and Lamine Chikhi; writing by Maher Chmaytelli Editing by Keith Weir) ((maher.chmaytelli@thomsonreuters.com;))

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