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Algeria upholds prison terms for ex-prime ministers convicted of corruption

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Anis Belghoul/Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


A court in the Algerian capital on Thursday upheld hefty prison sentences against two former prime ministers who served under ex-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, a judicial source said.

The judgement confirmed sentences of 15 years for Ahmed Ouyahia and 12 years for Abdelmalek Sellal that had originally been handed down in December 2019, the source said.

The Court of appeal gave a 15-year prison term to Ouyahia and 12 years for Sellal for their role in a botched car assembly deal.

The two men were also convicted of using illicit funds to fund former ruler Abdelaziz Bouteflika's fifth presidential bid. 

They were retried after the supreme court in November annulled their earlier convictions following an appeal.

 The car assembly scandal is said to have cost the Algerian treasury some 1 billion dollars.

Gold gifts kept secret

During the retrial in early January, Ouyahia admitted to receiving gold bars from Gulf donors then selling them on the black market.

Ouyahia said he had previously kept quiet about the matter so as "not to undermine the relations between Algeria and certain friendly countries".

Ouyahia was prime minister four times between 1995 and 2019. Sellal served from 2012 to 2017 and managed four of Bouteflika's election campaigns.

Former Ministers of Industry, Youcef Yousfi and Mahdjoub Bedda were given shorter prison sentences.

Several personalities including former political leaders, business executives and high-ranking civil servants are being tried for corruption cases committed during the Bouteflika rule.

President AbdelMajid Tebboune's military-backed government is keen to show that it is clamping down on corruption to shore up its own legitimacy.