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Algeria court sentences former internal security director-general to 16 years in prison 

Algerian security forces gather outside the Sidi Mhamed court in the capital Algiers on 10 December 2019 [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP via Getty Images]
Algerian security forces gather outside a court in the capital Algiers on 10 December 2019 [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP via Getty Images]

The military court in the city of Blida, north of Algeria, has sentenced former Director-General of Internal Security General Wassini Bouazza to 16 years in prison.

Bouazza, who was convicted on Wednesday on the last day of a three-day trial, has been in prison since April 2020 in relation to a number of cases.

The charges brought against Bouazza include disrespecting military law, forgery, illicit enrichment, and interference in the affairs of judicial authorities.

Algerian media reports confirmed in April 2020 that Bouazza was held in military prison immediately before his trial, after was removed from his position as director-general of Internal Security by order of the President of the Republic Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

The reports claimed that Bouazza was involved in several cases and that his removal will end power struggles within the state.

Algerian French-language newspaper El Watan stated that Bouazza was placed in a military prison immediately after members of the army security arrested him under the directives of Tebboune.

READ: Algeria loses 500,000 jobs due to coronavirus

The newspaper reported that Brigadier General Abdul Ghani Rashdi was appointed acting director of internal security, while pointing out that Bouazza's opponents described him as the "armed wing" of the former army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah.

An inauguration ceremony that enjoyed unprecedented media coverage under the supervision of acting Chief of Staff Major General Said Chengriha marked the beginning of the end of an era of power for Bouazza, who was banned from attending the ceremony.

Reports stated that General Bouazza was involved in multiple cases related to state security files that he handled, while indicating that investigations against him were launched some time ago at the level of the Army Security Directorate.

The reports indicated that his removal came as no surprise, given the changes initiated by Tebboune.

Following the last presidential elections, rumours linked Bouazza's dismissal to his alleged support for presidential candidate Azzedine Mihoubi, Tebboune's rival at the time.

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