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Algeria: Judiciary Summons Ex-Defense Minister as Witness in Said Bouteflika Case

Algeria: Judiciary Summons Ex-Defense Minister as Witness in Said Bouteflika Case

Wednesday, 15 May, 2019 - 07:30
Protesters in Algeria. (Reuters)
Algiers - Boualem Goumrassa
The Algerian military court summoned former defense minister General Khalid Nizar as a witness in the case against Said Bouteflika, the brother of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who stepped down last month.

The court summoned Nizar to give further details about information he wrote in a press release in late April in which he alleged that Said had asked his opinion about the sacking of the chief of staff. The two officials had met on March 30 prior to the president’s resignation after mounting popular protests.

Nizar said he was worried that chief of staff Ahmed Gaed Salah was plotting a coup against the former president. He said he had suggested his brother step down from the presidency, which actually happened on April 2, after the army's top command ordered him to resign.

Observers believe Nizar was summoned by the military court to confirm the charge against Said.

It is clear that the military is waging a major war against anyone affiliated with Said Bouteflika and former intelligence chief, General Mohamed Mediene.

Sources familiar with the ongoing judicial crackdown told Asharq Al-Awsat that the military and civilian courts have been instructed by the army to summon and interrogate anyone whose name appears in the ongoing investigations with Said Bouteflika and Mediene.

Bouteflika and Mediene have been in jail for 10 days on charges of “plotting against the state” and “conspiracy against the army.”

They were the latest in a string of businessmen and influential figures to be thrown in jail over their connection to the ruling regime.

Four businessmen, the Kouninef brothers, were the first to be sentenced after the civil court accused them of corruption and illegal profiteering. The Kouninef family is known for its relations with the Bouteflika family, especially Said.

Later, the same court jailed wealthy businessman Issad Rebrab, owner of the largest food industry conglomerate and one of North Africa's wealthiest men, in corruption cases.

Hamid Melzi, manager of a major state tourism company, was also imprisoned recently. He is a known affiliate of Mediene and has strong ties with Said Bouteflika.

According to the army leadership, Melzi was aware of the so-called “suspicious meetings” held at the end of March, organized by Mediene and Said Bouteflika to remove the chief of staff.

The military judiciary also imprisoned General Bachir Tartag, former presidential security adviser, who is also facing the same charges as Mediene and Said Bouteflika.

Protests against the ruling elite continued in the country. Regular weekly Tuesday rallies were held with hundreds of students taking to the streets of Algiers to demand the departure of the “thieves” and “traitors” associated with the former regime, according to an AFP correspondent.

The demonstrators chanted against corrupt figures as they headed towards the parliament on their second protest since the beginning of Ramadan, which started last week.

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