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Algeria: Former Bouteflika allies given heavy jail terms in corruption trials

Prominent tycoon Ali Haddad and his brothers were handed heavy prison sentences for corruption
Businessman Ali Haddad's lawyers condemned the verdict and said it was 'obviously political' (AFP)

An Algerian court handed down long prison sentences to several senior allies of ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Wednesday, a defence lawyer said. 

The Algerian court gave prominent tycoon Ali Haddad an 18-year jail term. Former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal, who are already imprisoned, were sentenced to 12 years each. 

Eight other former ministers were handed sentences between two and 20 years. 

Haddad's four brothers were also condemned to four years in prison, with the court ordering the seizure of family assets. 

Algerians display a banner showing, from left. Said Bouteflika, Abdelmadjid Sidi Said, General Secretary of the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA), Algeria's Forum des chefs d'entreprises (FCE) chairman Ali Haddad, and Algerian former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia in chain, as they demonstrate during the first Friday rally since the president's surprise announcement this week that he would not seek re-election (AFP)
Algerians display a banner showing, from left. Said Bouteflika, Abdelmadjid Sidi Said, Ali Haddad and Ahmed Ouyahia during a rally on 15 March 2019 (AFP)

The tycoon's lawyers condemned the verdict, calling it "obviously political", stating that Haddad intended to launch an appeal. 

"The defendants were members of the old regime. They are paying the price for being defeated," Khaled Bourayou, an advocate in Algeria, told AFP.

Charges against Haddad, the founder and CEO of construction firm ETRHB and former head of Algeria's main business owners' organisation, include "privileges, advantages and public contracts" as well as squandering public funds. 

Some of the key charges stemmed from Haddad receiving $16bn worth of bank loans he had allegedly obtained for projects gained through "mutual consents" rather than tenders, according to local media reports. 

Dubbed as one of the main funders of Bouteflika's recent election campaigns, Haddad was already sentenced at the end of March to four years in prison after another corruption trial.