Two Algerian former ministers have gone on trial on serious corruption charges, according to lawyers.
The case involves former Minister of Industry Mohamed Benmeradi, former Minister for Privatization and Investment Promotion, Abdelhamid Temmar, and six other defendants.
Shortly after the start of their trial, Benmeradi’s lawyers requested to postpone the session until September 26, stating they required time to review the file more carefully and prepare the pleas.
The judge accepted their request, but he stressed that the trial “will take place next time, whatever the conditions.”
Benmeradi, 70, was placed in pretrial detention two years ago, while Temmar, 73, had left the country years ago after he stepped down from the government during the rule of late President Abdelaziz Bouteflika from 1999 to 2019.
A ruling was issued for his arrest. An international arrest warrant is expected to be issued against him after the Algerian court pronounces its final verdict.
Algerian laws prohibit the appointment of lawyers for defendants residing abroad, even if they are not fugitives.
Benmeradi, Temmar and the other defendants are accused of several misdemeanors, including granting privileges and credits, squandering public funds and exploiting their positions.
They are also accused of mismanagement of the “Public Corporation for Industrial Construction and Civil Engineering,” and of concluding illegal deals, with the aim of obtaining special privileges and benefits.
A judicial inquiry into the company’s management reported that in the early 2000’s, attempts were made when Temmar was still in office to sell the Public Corporation for Industrial Construction and Civil Engineering “outside the legal framework” to a Belgian company specializing in construction and public works.
Al-Shorouk newspaper had previously described Temmar as “the architect who destroyed private institutions.”
Dozens of prominent civilian and military officials have been imprisoned by the authorities over corruption allegations.
They include former Prime Ministers Noureddine Bedoui, Ahmed Ouyahia, Abdelmalek Sellal and former chief presidential advisor, Said Bouteflika, the once-powerful brother of the former president, in addition to former intelligence chiefs, Generals Bachir Tartag and Wassini Bouazza, and dozens of high-ranking officers.
Source : Aawsat