Algeria court orders detention of two more ministers on corruption charges

Abdelghani Zaalane and Mohamed El Ghazi were taken into custody amid ongoing probe into state corruption

Algeria’s Supreme Court has ordered the detention of two ex-ministers who served in former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s government on accusations of corruption, the state-run Algeria Press Service (APS) reported.

Abdelghani Zaalane and Mohamed El Ghazi were taken into custody on Monday, APS said on its website.

Their detention comes amid ongoing investigations into government corruption under Bouteflika, who stepped down in April after months of protests against his attempt to run for a fifth term as president.

Zaalane, a former public works and transport minister, and El Ghazi, the country’s labour minister from May 2014 to May 2017, were accused of “dissipation of public funds” and abusing their functions, among other things, APS said.

Zaalane, who served as minister from mid-2017 until March of this year, was also Bouteflika’s campaign manager before the longstanding president was forced to forego his re-election bid.

It is unclear when they are next expected to go before a judge at court.

Thousands of Algerians have continued to protest across the country since Bouteflika’s resignation, calling for a complete overhaul of the country’s political system.

They are insisting that Bouteflika-era officials accused of corruption must step down.

Last week, interim President Abdelkader Bensalah abruptly sacked Algeria’s justice minister, Slimane Brahmi. While Bensalah did not say why Brahmi was forced out, the minister’s removal came amid the ongoing corruption probes.

In June, the country’s Supreme Court also placed ex-prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia in custody over alleged corruption.

Several senior figures, including eight government ministers as well as another former prime minister, also appeared in court on suspicion of corruption in May.

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