An Algerian court on Wednesday handed heavy prison sentences to several former allies of ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika for corruption, a defense lawyer said.
Prominent tycoon Ali Haddad was handed an 18-year jail term while former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal, already behind bars over other graft cases, were sentenced to 12 years each.
Eight other former ministers were handed sentences of between two and 20 years.
Haddad’s brothers – Omar, Meziane, Sofiane and Mohamed – were condemned to four years in prison, while the court ordered the seizure of family assets.
A lawyer for Haddad, the founder and CEO of construction firm ETRHB and former head of Algeria’s main employers’ organization, slammed the verdict as “obviously political” and said the businessman would appeal.
“The defendants were members of the old regime. They are paying the price of the defeated,” Khaled Bourayou added.
Bouteflika, who was Algeria’s longest-serving president, was forced to resign in April last year amid enormous street protests against his decision to seek a fifth term in office despite his ill health.
While some have welcomed the trials of figures in his entourage, including his powerful brother Said and two former intelligence chiefs, many fear that they amount to little more than a power struggle between regime “clans.”