An Algerian court has sentenced four members of a billionaire family to jail terms, ranging from 15 to 20 years.
Three brothers in the Kouninef family and their sister bagged their jailed terms for corruption linked to the era of the former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Three brothers – Reda, Noah-Tarek and Abdelkader-Karim Kouninef -received prison sentences of 16, 15 and 12 years respectively, while their sister, Souad, who has fled abroad, was sentenced to 20 years in absentia.
An international arrest warrant has been issued for the fleeing sister.
The Kouninef siblings had been found guilty earlier this month on charges including exerting undue influence and obtaining unfair advantages, money laundering, embezzlement of land and breaches of public works contracts.
Their family owns KouGC Group, a firm specialising in civil engineering, hydraulics and construction.
The trial was the latest in a campaign targeting Bouteflika-era politicians and businessmen accused of corruption, in a bid to prove the current government’s commitment to reform.
The court also fined the brothers 8 million dinars each.
In the same case, a former manager of the KouGC group, Kaddour Ben Tahar was sentenced to eight years in prison and a fine of 8 million dinars.
In addition, the court of Sidi M’hamed ordered the seizure of all the property of the Kouninef brothers.
The KouGC company was also ordered to pay a fine of 32 million dinars.
The three Kouninef brothers, Reda, Tarek and Karim who have been in detention for over a year, have 54 companies located in Algeria.
Group Lambastes Egypt Over Execution Of 49 People In 10 Days
Egyptian authorities executed 15 men convicted for alleged involvement in three cases of political violence as well as 2 women and 25 men convicted in criminal cases between October 3 and 13, 2020, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.
In a statement, the rights group asks the Egyptian Government to immediately halt executions, and re-try those sentenced to death in grossly unfair trials.
According to HRW, 13 of the 15 men charged with political violence had been held in Cairo’s Scorpion Prison.
Their executions follow a suspicious incident inside Scorpion’s death row ward on September 23 in which Interior Ministry forces killed four prisoners after those prisoners killed four security personnel. Authorities alleged the prisoners were trying to escape, the group said.
“Egypt’s mass executions of scores of people in a matter of days is outrageous,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
“The systematic absence of fair trials in Egypt, especially in political cases, makes every death sentence a violation of the right to life.”
The government typically does not announce executions, or even inform the prisoner’s family.
On October 13, the pro-government Al-Masry al-Youm newspaper published the names of eight prisoners executed in the Maximum-Security Prison in Minya governorate, south of Cairo, including a woman.
On October 6, pro-government newspaper Al-Watan said authorities in Cairo Isti’naf Prison carried out 11 executions, including a woman, convicted in criminal cases.
Al-Watan reported on October 3 that authorities executed eight prisoners and on October 8 another seven in Alexandria, in murder and rape cases.
The independent Al-Shehab Center for Human Rights published on October 7 the names of 15 people it said authorities had executed on October 3. Ten had been convicted in the South Giza Case 3455 of 2014, known as the Ajnad Masr (Soldiers of Egypt) case; three in the North Giza Case 4804 of 2013, known as the Kerdasa case; and two in the East Alexandria Case 6300 of 2013, known as the Alexandria Library case.
The Kerdasa and Alexandria Library cases stem from violent events coinciding with the August 14, 2013 violent dispersal of the largely peaceful Rab’a sit-in protesting the army’s removal of President Mohamed Morsy, a day in which security forces probably killed over 1,000 protesters.
The Kerdasa case involved violent protests and an armed attack by a mob on the Kerdasa police station, killing its warden and 12 other Interior Ministry officers and soldiers, and mutilating an officer’s body.
A terrorism court sentenced 183 out of 188 defendants in a grossly unfair mass trial.
The Cassation Court, Egypt’s highest appeal court, overturned the ruling in February 2016 and ordered a retrial before a different terrorism court, which in July 2017 sentenced 20 to death, 80 to life in prison, acquitted 21, and sentenced the rest to long prison terms.
The Cassation Court upheld these sentences in September 2018. Seventeen of the 20 sentenced to death remained on death row.
Nine leading Egyptian human rights organizations said in a 2018 statement that authorities ignored basic fair trial guarantees, including access to legal counsel and the need to establish individual criminal responsibility.
In the Alexandria Library case, authorities charged 71 people following violent protests near the library and killings of 16 people, including an officer and two soldiers, in different incidents.
In September 2015, a criminal court in Alexandria sentenced three defendants to death, one of them in absentia, and the rest to prison.
The Cassation Court upheld the death sentences in July 2017 and acquitted four defendants. Human Rights Watch reviewed 66 pages of the case file comprising the indictment and the evidence, mainly unsubstantiated allegations by security officers with scant material evidence that two executed, Yasser Shokr and Yasser al-Abasiery, were responsible for the killings.
In the Ajnad Masr case, authorities charged about 45 defendants of involvement in armed attacks by Ajnad Masr, an extremist armed group, which claimed responsibility for several attacks in 2014 and 2015. In December 2017, a Giza terrorism court sentenced 13 to death, others to prison terms, and acquitted 5. In May 2019, the Cassation Court upheld the sentences. Three people from this case remain on death row.
Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt has become one of the top 10 countries for executions and death sentences. Those arrested for alleged political violence frequently face a host of abuses including enforced disappearances, torture to extract confessions, and no access to lawyers. In an examination of 28 death sentence cases since 2016, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights found that authorities had forcibly disappeared 198 people, and 212 said they had been tortured. The majority of those sentenced to death were convicted in military or terrorism court trials that do not meet fair trial standards.
Authorities routinely add dozens, sometimes hundreds, of defendants to a case without justification. Mass trials, which became the norm after 2013 in political cases, do not allow sufficient time to present a defense or to establish individual criminal responsibility.
Egypt’s Prime Minister Explores Archeological Shaft in Saqqara; Details of the Grand Excavation to be Announced
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly, Minister of Tourism and Antiquitues Dr. Khaled El-Anany, and Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Dr. Mustafa Waziri have inspected excavation works of the Egyptian mission in the Saqqara Necropolis.
The mission unearthed three archeological shafts in which are buried a large number of sarcophagi that have been unopened for over 2,500 years, in addition to wooden, colored and gilded figurines and other archeological finds made of gold.
The discoveries will be announced at a press conference in Saqqara in the coming weeks after documenting the finds.
Madbouly, El-Anany, and Waziri descended down one of the shafts to inspect the new discoveries in a gesture from Madbouly to laud the efforts of the SCA mission.
The prime minister commended the efforts of the minister of tourism and antiquities, and the shaft employees for their efforts in making regular discoveries.
El-Anany in return thanked Madbouly for the support and attention the government is giving to archeology, which have led to these discoveries in Egypt, in addition to other unprecedented achievements to inaugurate archeological projects that were hailed the world over.
El-Anany disclosed that five museums will open before the end of 2020.
Madbouly expressed his pride in Egypt’s unique civilization.
It is worth noting that the Egyptian archeological mission has made a number of significant discoveries in Saqqara, the most recent of which was unearthing 59 colored sarcophagi that contained well-preserved mummies of officials and priests from the 26thDynasty. The discovery was announced at an international press conference in early October 2020.
4th Round of Libya’s ‘5+5’ Negotiation Starts – UNSMIL
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Monday reported that the fourth round of negotiations of ”Libya’s 5+5” Joint Military Commission (JMC) has started in Geneva.
The JMC consists of five senior military officers chosen by the Government of National Accord and five senior military officers chosen by the Libyan National Army.
“The fourth round of the Libyan JMC talks began at the Palais des Nations in Geneva with the presence and participation of the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (ASRSG) and Head of the UNSMIL, Ms Stephanie Williams.
“The launching of this round of talks is marked by in person meetings between the delegations of the two parties to the conflict in Libya.
“The meeting began with the playing of the Libyan national anthem, followed by opening remarks by the ASRSG and the heads of both delegations,’’ the UNSMIL said in a statement.
The UNSMIL said the negotiations would continue until October 24, expressing hope that the talks would result in a solution to all outstanding issues in order to achieve a complete and permanent ceasefire across Libya.
“UNSMIL appreciates the leadership of both parties for facilitating this round of talks. It also thanks the members of both delegations for traveling to Geneva during these unusual conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ the statement concluded.
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