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Sacked Algerian minister fights for innocence

May 31, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Recently dismissed Algerian minister of tourism, Messaoud Benagoune, showing his blank criminal record on 30 May, 2017 [Twitter]

The Algerian minister of tourism and handicraft who was sacked 48 hours after being appointed has fought back to prove his innocence by submitting documents that detail his clean record.

Messaoud Benagoune was dismissed from his role by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika; no reason was given for why he was discharged.

However, after his dismissal, information circulated that Benagoune had received heavy prison sentences in the past which would have justified the president’s decision.

Benagoune was able to retrieve a document yesterday that details his clean record from the Court of Batna which was signed by the Attorney General and the Registrar.

Read: Algerian president dismisses tourism minister three days after appointment

Benagoune announced this week that he will file a complaint of defamation against Ennahar TV which he blames for publicising the accusations of criminality that led to his dismissal. “It was Ennahar who brought the accusations against me, not the Presidency of the Republic.”

In response to these accusations, head of the TV station, Anis Rahmani, said the station had published verified information. “We have published 20 per cent of the information we hold on Benagoune. He has been convicted in several cases, including rape in Beni Messous. The victim is from Medea. Everyone is aware of this matter. Benagoune is known for his escapades in the student and young movements.”

According to Rahmani, the governor of Batna dismissed Benagoune from the candidature in the 4 May legislative elections. “The Wali [governor] discovered that Benagoune was condemned by the justice court. He did not invent this case.”

However Benagoune said:

I was accused but I was not heard by the judge. A conviction was pronounced in my absence – a conditional prison sentence. No one contacted me from the court, I did not even know. I did not receive a summons. In fact, I [only] realised when I submitted my candidacy in the May 4th legislative elections.

Benagoune has reproached Ennahar for not giving him the floor to defend himself.

The former minister has also been accused of fabricating his degree from Algiers 1 University which he has refuted by showing his diploma in law to news site Tout Sur l’Algerie. He has also rejected claims he was part of a student body in the university that assaulted a public official in 2008 stating that there was no evidence that he was a member of the group.