Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal who both are former Algerian prime ministers are facing new heavy prison sentences on charges of corruption and “squandering of public funds.” Both men have also been accused of enabling some businessmen to gain “illicit profits,” by allowing them to benefit from public projects and deals.
The reports of the security services regarding the investigations into projects obtained by prominent businessman Ali Haddad, were discussed at a trial on Monday. Haddad, who is the main defendant, was last month convicted to18 years in prison.
Sellal and Ouyahia both received a 12 years prison sentence each.
At the beginning of the trial, there was some controversy regarding the extent of specialization of the Court of Appeal in a case concerning the term of a former prime minister. Both defense teams of Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal demanded that, as stipulated in the constitution, the State Supreme Court should take over their trial.
This judicial entity however, does not exist given that it wasn’t established by authorities, thus the judge estimated that their trial must take place within the framework of available entities within the regular judiciary.
After a lengthy process, the debate finally ended with lawyers agreeing to continue pleadings on behalf of their clients.
Because both Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal were located in two different prisons far from the capital, their trials had to take place remotely.
Sellal was brought to the court in Algiers, along with several imprisoned former ministers and state officials. Some of whom are on trial for corruption cases relating to their time during which former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was in power.
While being questioned about Haddad, Ouyahia indicated that the “National Council of Investment,” in which several ministers and military officers are included, studies all public deals and approves or rejects them.
He stressed that within his capacity as the head of the Council, he alone could not make such decisions.
Ouyahia argued that the case includes facts attributed to him at a time when he was not the prime minister.
The judiciary earlier this year had sentenced Sellal to 12 years in prison, and Ouyahia to 15 years on charges of corruption related to the period when Bouteflika was absent from the political scene due to illness.
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