Algerian senator arrested in anti-graft sweep

Djamel Ould Abbas. (Supplied)
Updated 08 July 2019

Algerian senator arrested in anti-graft sweep

  • Ex-minister was accused of abusing his office for personal enrichment

ALGIERS: An Algerian senator close to ex-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been jailed on accusations of corruption.
State television announced that a Supreme Court judge ordered Djamel Ould Abbas incarcerated in Algiers on Sunday after several hours of questioning for alleged wrongdoing when he was government minister during Bouteflika’s first term, 1999-2004.
Accusations include falsifying official documents and abusing his office for personal enrichment, according to the state television report.
Abbas, vice president of Algeria’s Senate, has not publicly commented on the accusations. He relinquished his parliamentary immunity amid growing political pressure over the case.
He is the latest of several high-profile figures arrested in an anti-corruption sweep since Bouteflika was pushed out of office in April by mass protests backed by Algeria’s army chief.

Call for poll
Meanwhile, Algerian opposition parties and civil society figures called a day earlier for elections to take place in six months, after the interim president pushed for dialogue. The group proposed “free and pluralistic” elections “in a period of six months,” in a statement issued at a meeting of political parties and civil society representatives.
The “National Forum for Dialogue” meeting on Saturday was chaired by former minister Abdelaziz Rahabi, who has backed mass protests against the ruling elite. A political crisis initially culminated in long-time leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigning in April on the back of huge demonstrations, and major rallies have continued.

FASTFACT

Djamel Ould Abbas was ordered incarceration in Algiers after several hours of questioning for alleged wrongdoing when he was government minister during Bouteflika’s first term, 1999-2004.

Algerian protesters are pushing for an overhaul of the entire political class. Saturday’s meeting pushed for the creation of a body to prepare for the polls, composed of figures chosen by “the parties of dialogue with the exclusion of symbols of the former political regime.”
Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah called on Wednesday for a national dialogue, in which he promised the state and army would remain neutral.


Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

Updated 46 min 22 sec ago

Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

  • Altan and the others deny the charges against them
  • On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing

ISTANBUL: Turkish police detained prominent journalist and author Ahmet Altan late on Tuesday, a week after he was released from prison in his retrial on coup-related charges, Istanbul police said.

Before his release last Monday, the 69-year-old had been in jail since his arrest in 2016, two months after an attempted coup which Ankara says was orchestrated by the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The journalist’s case has drawn criticism from human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies. They are concerned by the scale of a post-coup crackdown against suspected Gulen supporters under President Tayyip Erdogan.

Altan smiled and waved as he was driven away by counter-terror squad police officers after being taken from his home in Istanbul, video and photos published by Turkish media showed.

He was taken to Istanbul police headquarters after a hospital check-up, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

Altan, his brother and other journalists were previously sentenced to life in jail for aiding Gulen’s network. Last week he was convicted again in a retrial, but released from jail given the time served.

Altan and the others deny the charges against them.

On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing, Anadolu reported.

Under last week’s verdict, Altan was sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail. Turkey’s high court had overruled the previous life sentences against him in July, sending the file back for re-trial.

Erdogan’s government has jailed more than 77,000 people pending trial since the failed putsch. Widespread arrests are still routine in a crackdown critics say demonstrates growing autocracy in Turkey.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, and his followers deny any involvement in the coup. Turkey has repeatedly called on the United States to extradite the cleric.