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Algeria issues arrest warrant for former defence minister and son

For the 21st Friday in a row, Algerians stage a demonstration demanding regime officials - who continue to work after former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned - to step down, in Algiers, Algeria on July 05, 2019 [Farouk Batiche / Anadolu Agency]
For the 21st Friday in a row, Algerians stage a demonstration demanding regime officials - who continue to work after former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned - to step down, in Algiers, Algeria on 5 July 2019 [Farouk Batiche / Anadolu Agency]

An Algerian military court issued an arrest warrant on Tuesday for former Defence Minister Khaled Nezzar and his son Lotfi. Both are charged with conspiracy and violating public order, which are punishable under articles 77 and 78 of the Penal Code and article 284 of the Algerian Military Justice Law. The warrant also named Belhamdine Farid, the director of the Algerian public pharmaceutical company, who is wanted on charges of conspiracy and disruption of public order.

Khaled Nezzar, who lives abroad, made no immediate comment in response to the warrant. A few days ago, however, a tweet was issued on an account attributed to him which claimed that, “The peaceful movement forced Bouteflika [the outgoing Algerian President] to resign, but the military force took over, and the constitution was violated by illegal interference. Algeria is currently being held hostage by a rude person who imposed the fourth mandate and inspired the fifth mandate. He should be stopped, for the country is in danger.”

READ: Algerian Interim President removes Justice Minister appointed few months ago

The authorities in Algeria have been holding five former ministers since February. The arrests followed protests and the opening of investigations into allegations of corruption under the former regime. Former Prime Ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal are also being held on charges that include the wasting of public funds.

Ex-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika ended his 20-year rule on 2 April, under pressure from the army and protests that are now calling for the departure of the rest of the ruling elite.

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