ALGIERS: An Algerian investigating magistrate on Sunday conditionally released former Finance Minister Karim Djoudi as part of an ongoing corruption probe, the official APS press agency said.
Karim Djoudi, finance minister between 2007 and 2014, appeared before the Supreme Court’s investigating magistrate in connection with the disappearance of public funds, abuse of office and granting undue privileges, according to APS.
The top court is the only judicial body with jurisdiction over offences committed in public office by government members, local officials and high magistrates.
Former Transport Minister Amar Tou also appeared before the supreme court’s investigating magistrate on Sunday, APS said.
Djoudi and Tou are among 12 former Algerian officials subject to preliminary probes for alleged criminal offences.
Last week, a judge placed in detention two former prime ministers, Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal.
Both served under president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned on April 2 amid huge protests against his two-decade rule.
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.
Former Trade Minister Amara Benyounes has been detained in El-Harrach prison and former Public Works Minister Abdelghani Zaalane has been conditionally released.
Observers fear that the arrests, while seemingly seeking to placate protesters, are the result of jockeying for power among key insider factions.
He has not been charged but joins a series of senior figures associated with former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to face investigations since protests broke out this year demanding the departure of the ruling elite.
Authorities have postponed a presidential election previously planned for July 4, citing a lack of candidates. No new date has been set for the vote.
The channel later said Mourad Eulmi, the head of the Algerian family-owned firm SOVAC which runs an assembly plant with Germany’s Volkswagen AG, was questioned in another court in Algiers about corruption accusations.
Eulmi was arrested by police last week. The TV reports did not give any more details about Djoudi and Eulmi’s cases and there was no immediate statement from the men or any lawyer representing them.
The hearings came days after the Supreme Court ordered the detention of ex-prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal, as well as former Trade Minister Amara Benyounes for “dissipation of public funds and awarding illegal privileges.”
The army is now the main player in Algerian politics after Bouteflika stepped down two months ago and its chief of staff Ahmed Gaed Salah has urged the judiciary to speed up the prosecution of people suspected of involvement in corruption cases.
The legal moves have not prevented further demonstrations by protesters pushing for radical change and a clean break with an elite who have governed the North African country since independence from France in 1962.
Djoudi served as finance minister under Ouyahia from June 2007 to May 2014 when he resigned on health ground before being named Bouteflika’s adviser for the past two years.
Bouteflika stepped down on April 2 under pressure from the army and protests that erupted on Feb.22.
Bouteflika’s youngest brother, Said, and two former intelligence chiefs have been placed in custody by a military judge for “harming the army’s authority and plotting against state authority.”
Several prominent businessmen, some of them close to Bouetflika have been detained at a prison in Algiers over corruption allegations.
Protesters are now seeking the departure of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, both seen as part of the establishment.