Africa

Said Bouteflika: Brother of deposed Algerian leader goes on trial

Said Bouteflika Image copyright AFP
Image caption Said Bouteflika, pictured in 2012, was widely seen as the real power behind the presidency

The brother of Algeria's deposed former president has gone on trial, accused of conspiring against the state and undermining the military.

Said Bouteflika was a key figure among Algeria's leadership until President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was ousted in April following pro-democracy protests.

Two former secret service chiefs and a political party head are also on trial.

Said Bouteflika was widely seen as the real power behind the presidency after his brother suffered a stroke in 2013.

All four are standing trial at a military court in Blida, south of the capital Algiers, private broadcasters Ennahar and El Bilad reported.

The ailing former president is currently in a residence west of Algiers, and is not expected to face trial, BBC Africa's Ahmed Rouaba reports.

What are the allegations?

The charges relate to an alleged meeting between Said Bouteflika and his co-defendants in March.

It is claimed that he met two secret service leaders, General Mohamed Mediene and General Athmane Tartag, and the head of The Workers' Party, Louisa Hanoune.

They are accused of considering declaring a state of emergency and firing the army chief, General Ahmed Gaid Salah, as protests against the president were mounting.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Protests continue to be held every Friday - including this one on 20 September

General Mediene – also known as Toufik – was in charge of the powerful DRS intelligence agency from 1990 until 2015. General Tartag was his deputy, and later his successor.

They were detained in May during a wave of arrests targeting Abdelaziz Bouteflika's inner circle.

Presidential elections have been called for 12 December, but protesters are continuing to demand political reform in the country.

They are also demanding all of the former president's loyalists are removed from power - including army chief General Salah and the interim president Abdelkader Bensalah.

'The authorities want to show they are serious'

Analysis by BBC Africa's Ahmed Rouaba

Ahmed Gaid Salah, the man in charge in Algeria, has promised to crack down on what he calls "the gang" and bring them to justice.

This trial in Blida, of some of the most powerful officials in Bouteflika's regime, is designed to show the authorities are serious about fighting what they say is corruption at the highest level of the state.

It is also designed to gain support for the fresh presidential elections announced by interim President Bensalah.

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Media captionProtesters celebrated after Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April

Several former cabinet ministers, political leaders and businessmen linked to ousted President Bouteflika have been jailed in recent months, and are now awaiting trial.

The most important challenge facing Gen Gaid Salah and the Algerian authorities, however, is holding the presidential election to allow the country to return to constitutional legitimacy.

Meanwhile, the protesters who are still taking to the streets every Friday have rejected elections under the current government, and are calling for the removal of all officials associated with the Bouteflika regime.

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