Houthis seize dozens of relief trucks: Yemen minister 

Armed Yemeni men hold their weapons as they gather in the capital Sanaa to show their support to the Houthis. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 January 2019

Houthis seize dozens of relief trucks: Yemen minister 

  • Houthi fighters seized 72 WFP relief tracks headed to the province of Ibb
  • Houthi militia are preventing the arrival of relief for those in need in areas under their control

Houthi fighters seized 72 World Food Programme (WFP) relief tracks headed to the province of Ibb on Saturday, Minister of Local Administration and chairman of the Higher Committee for Relief in Yemen said.

The WFP the food assistance branch of the United Nations.

The WFP had last week accused the Houthis of stealing food aid dedicated to people affected by the conflict in regions under militia control.

“The Houthis are carrying out systematic work against relief operations in Yemen, starving the Yemeni people and deprive them of the most basic rights,” Abdul Raqeeb Saif Fateh told Yemen’s state news agency, Saba New.

Houthi militia are preventing the arrival of relief for those in need in areas under their control, the minister said.

Fateh called on UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande to intervene and pressure the Houthis to return the seized relief trucks.

“The Yemeni government will bring cases to the international courts against the Houthis who directly starve the Yemeni people and contribute to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in their areas of control,” he said. “The militia are the biggest violators of humanitarian operations in the world.”

The minister said the Yemeni government was working in coordination with donors and international organizations to ensure the delivery of relief aid and humanitarian materials to all governorates.

He requested the WFP implement an electronic fingerprint system in areas controlled by the Houthis to ensure better security for the distribution of aid and to avoid looting by the armed militia.

Fatah urged international relief organizations working in Yemen not to deal with the Houthis and to only deal with local organizations and partners which he said were “reliable, efficient, transparent and fair in their distribution.” 

Bouteflika-era tycoon jailed for six months in Algeria

Updated 39 min 21 sec ago

Bouteflika-era tycoon jailed for six months in Algeria

  • Ali Haddad was earlier arrested in possession of two passports
  • Haddad is widely perceived to have used his links to Bouteflika to build his business empire

ALGIERS: Algeria’s top businessman Ali Haddad, a key supporter of ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was jailed for six months on Monday for holding two passports, in the first conviction in a string of corruption probes.

The business tycoon was arrested in late March on the border with Tunisia in possession of two passports and undeclared currency, days before Bouteflika resigned in the face of mass protests.

Haddad, who owns Algeria’s largest private construction company, is the first high-profile figure with ties to Bouteflika to be jailed since the president stepped down on April 2 after two decades in power. He was found guilty of the “unjustified procurement of administrative documents” and also fined 50,000 dinars ($420), state television reported.

Described by Forbes as one of Algeria’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Haddad is widely perceived to have used his links to Bouteflika to build his business empire.

The businessman, a key election campaign funder for Bouteflika, had denied breaking the law and said he obtained his second passport legally after seeking an interview with then-Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal.

The ex-premier and Haddad are among many businessmen and former politicians caught up in a separate anti-corruption investigation launched since the president stepped down.

Earlier this month Haddad’s lawyer, Khaled Bourayou, decried a “political trial” and told journalists the passport case had no legal basis.

The sentence is significantly lower than the 18 months term and fine of 100,000 dinars requested by the prosecutor.

Hassane Boualem, then-director of titles and secure documents at the Interior Ministry, was given a two-month suspended sentence and fined 20,000 dinars for issuing Haddad’s second passport in 2016.

He told the court he was following the orders of his superiors — Interior Ministry head Hocine Mazouz, Sellal and Algeria’s current premier, Noureddine Bedoui — who were not investigated over the affair.

Last week, a judge placed in detention two former prime ministers, Sellal as well as Ahmed Ouyahia, who served four terms as premier.

An investigating magistrate on Sunday conditionally released former Finance Minister Karim Djoudi as part of the corruption probes. Karim Djoudi, finance minister between 2007 and 2014, appeared before the supreme court’s magistrate in connection with the disappearance of public funds and abuse of office.

The supreme court is the only judicial body with jurisdiction over offenses committed in public office by government members, local officials and high magistrates.

Former Transport Minister Amar Tou was also conditionally released after appearing before the investigating magistrate.

Djoudi and Tou are among 12 former Algerian officials subject to preliminary probes for alleged criminal offenses.

Former Trade Minister Amara Benyounes has been detained in El Harrach prison, in an eastern suburb of Algiers, and former Public Works Minister Abdelghani Zaalane has been conditionally released.

Army chief General Gaid Salah, the key powerbroker in post-Bouteflika Algeria, vowed Monday that no one would be spared from the corruption probes.

The judiciary must “bring to justice all the corrupt regardless of their function or their social rank,” he said. “The fight against corruption knows no limit and no exception will be made to anyone... it’s time to settle accounts,” Salah said, adding it was “time to clean up our country.”

The graft probes have also seen a dozen Bouteflika-linked businessmen placed in preventative detention.

Demonstrations have continued since the ailing head of state stepped down, as protesters demand the fall of regime insiders and the establishment of independent institutions.