A court in Algeria has sentenced the country's former Energy Minister, Chakib Khelil, to 20 years imprisonment in absentia, finding him guilty of corruption charges allegedly committed during his time in the position over a decade ago.
Two weeks after the trial over Khelil took place, the Sidi M'Hamed court in the capital, Algiers, has today approved the Public Prosecution's requests to impose a sentence of "20 years in prison with the implementation of the international arrest warrant issued in September 2019." He was also fined two million Algerian dinars ($14,233).
Khelil, who ran Algeria's Ministry of Energy under former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, left the government in 2010 after a series of corruption scandals were revealed and fled to the United States. An international arrest warrant was issued against him in 2013, but he returned to Algeria in 2016, after that arrest warrant was cancelled.
In 2019, however, following the ousting and resignation of Bouteflika from the presidency, protests demanded that the authorities arrest, investigate and put on trial prominent government aides and officials from the former president's era. The corruption probe against Khelil was reopened, prompting him to flee Algeria again.
The sentences imposed on Khelil have been ruled in absentia, as the current location of the former powerful energy minister is not yet known. He is believed to be in the US, though, as he also holds American citizenship.
The Algerian government has recently taken further steps to tackle corruption amongst officials, with current President Abdelmadjid Tebboune ordering, last month, the establishment of a body to investigate and combat corruption cases.