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Brother of deposed Algerian leader sentenced to 15 years

BBC Africa/Maximilian Kasseh, Jr.
Said Bouteflika
Said Bouteflika

ALGIERS, ALGERIA-The brother of Algeria's deposed former president has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiring against the state and undermining the military.

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

Two former secret service chiefs and a political party head were also sentenced after the two-day trial.

President Bouteflika was ousted in April following pro-democracy protests.

The defendants were detained in May during a wave of arrests targeting the former president's inner circle.

The ailing ex-leader is in a residence west of Algiers, and is not expected to face trial.

The current authorities in Algeria have promised to crack down on what the call "the gang" that used to surround President Bouteflika and bring them to justice, the BBC's Ahmed Rouaba says.

This trial is designed to show that the government is serious about fighting what it says is corruption at the highest level of the state, our reporter adds.
What were the allegations?
The charges related to an alleged meeting between Said Bouteflika and his co-defendants in March.

He was accused of conspiring with two secret service leaders, Gen Mohamed Mediene and Gen Athmane Tartag, and the head of The Workers' Party, Louisa Hanoune.

They were said to be considering declaring a state of emergency and firing the army chief, Gen Ahmed Gaid Salah, as protests against the president were mounting.

Who is now in charge?

Gen Salah remains the head of the armed forces and is considered to be the most powerful man in the country, but the speaker of parliament's upper house, Abdelkader Bensalah, is the interim president.

Both men are tainted by an association with the former government.

Nevertheless, they say they are committed to dealing with alleged corruption under President Bouteflika.

Several former cabinet ministers, political leaders and businessmen linked to the ousted leader have also been detained.

Despite this crackdown, the authorities have not been able to hold a presidential election that would pave the way to the return of constitutional rule.

Protesters, who are still taking to the streets every Friday, have rejected elections under the current government, and are calling for the removal of all officials associated with the Bouteflika regime.

 


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