Algeria car tycoon associates probed for graft: prosecutor

Of 56 persons of interest in the case, 45 are under judicial investigation, the Algiers prosecutor said in a statement. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 June 2019

Algeria car tycoon associates probed for graft: prosecutor

ALGIERS: A prosecutor said Tuesday that 45 people including senior officials connected to Algerian automobile tycoon Mahieddine Tahkout are under investigation for corruption and money laundering.
Of 56 persons of interest in the case, 45 are under judicial investigation, the Algiers prosecutor said in a statement broadcast by state television.
The investigating judge had “decided to place 19 of the accused in provisional detention and to conditionally release seven” suspects, the statement said.
The 19 others under investigation remained free without restrictions, it added.
A lawyer for Tahkout told AFP on Monday that the tycoon had been placed in provisional detention on corruption allegations.
Tahkout is a close associate of longtime leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to step down in April after weeks of mass protests.
Demonstrations have continued since the ailing president stepped down, as protesters demand that regime insiders also exit as a precursor to independent institutions being set up.
Thousands of students and teachers took to the streets of the capital on Tuesday, rejecting dialogue with interim President Abdelkader Bensalah.
Tahkout’s business group owns one of Algeria’s biggest automobile dealerships.
Among those accused alongside Tahkout are his son and two of his brothers, 38 civil servants and three employees of Tahkout’s businesses, according to the prosecutor.
The 45 under investigation are being probed for money laundering, concealing the illicit transfer of goods obtained through corruption, and squandering public money.
Among the remaining 11 persons of interest are a former prime minister, two former ministers and a current minister, the statement said, without giving names.
The positions occupied by the 11 at the time of the alleged events means they enjoy immunity, but their cases have been sent to the public prosecutor to decide on further action.
The justice ministry said Monday that Algeria’s upper house would vote on June 19 on whether to lift the parliamentary immunity of two Bouteflika-era ministers — Said Barkat and Djamel Ould Abbes.
Several prominent politicians and businessmen linked to Bouteflika have been detained or questioned in connection with corruption since the president was forced to step down after two decades in power.

Egypt army drill ‘sends a message to Erdogan’

Updated 1 min 2 sec ago

Egypt army drill ‘sends a message to Erdogan’

  • Military exercise near Libyan border a ‘warning shot,’ experts say

CAIRO: A major Egyptian army exercise near the border with Libya is being viewed by military and strategic experts as a message of deterrence to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his backing for the Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj and supported by militia groups.

The combat exercise, codenamed “Hasm 2020” (Firmness 2020), was carried out by Egypt’s Western Region units together with armed forces formations and special troops, including paratroops and SEAL teams.

The drills included strategic incursions by land forces and land-sea operations by troops in coastal areas of the Western Region near the border with Libya. Other exercises focused on the threat from mercenary or terror groups.

Air defense and artillery maneuvers were also carried out during the exercises, which lasted several days. 

African affairs and national security expert Gen. Mohammed Abdel-Wahed said the Hasm 2020 exercise “carries many internal and external messages of assurance to our brothers in Libya and deterrence to some regional parties.”

The drill “was a message of deterrence to anyone who thinks he can threaten Egyptian national security” and “a simulation of war,” he added.

According to an army statement, the drill’s main phase was attended by Egyptian Minister of Defense Mohamed Zaki, and included live artillery and weapons fire.

Strategic expert Gen. Samir Farag said: “What happened was not an ordinary drill because the forces attacked mercenaries. Our army always fights a regular army. What is different about this drill is training to combat mercenaries. One of the training tasks is to carry out attacks to eliminate mercenaries in cooperation with the air force.”

Farag said the drill “is a message that we will operate on the coasts if they are under threat.”

He said the Egyptian air force succeeded in providing air supplies, “meaning that we have forces capable of going anywhere.”

Farag said that the Western Region had been carefully selected as a location for the exercises.

“We closely monitor any drill carried out by any of our enemies,” he said, adding that Hasm 2020 had been studied and followed up by some countries in the region. 

Egyptian MP and journalist Mustafa Bakry said that “every Egyptian should be proud of their armed forces and their extensive preparation to counter any attack on Egypt or threaten its national security.”

Bakry said that Hasm 2020 sent “a clear message to anyone who attempts to threaten Egypt or its people.”

The Libyan cities of Sirte and Al-Jufra are a red line, he said, adding that “Egypt will never leave Libya and its brotherly people as an easy prey to the Turkish invader.”