Algeria’s ex-industry minister detained over alleged corruption

Algeria’s supreme court placed former industry minister Youcef Yousfi in custody over alleged corruption. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 July 2019

Algeria’s ex-industry minister detained over alleged corruption

  • Yousfi became the latest senior official to be detained in anti-corruption investigations since protests erupted earlier this year
  • His legal representative was not immediately available for comment

ALGIERS: Algeria's supreme court on Wednesday placed former industry minister Youcef Yousfi in custody over alleged corruption, state television reported.
Yousfi became the latest senior official to be detained in anti-corruption investigations since protests erupted earlier this year demanding the prosecution of people seen by demonstrators as corrupt, as well as the removal of the long-ruling elite.
Protesters and the military forced President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign on April 2, ending his 20 years in power. But protests have continued to press demands for the departure of others in the old guard that has dominated the oil- and gas-exporting country since independence from France in 1962.
Yousfi, who served as industry minister from August 2017 to March 2019, is accused of "dissipation of public funds and awarding illegal privileges", state television reported, without providing details.
His legal representative was not immediately available for comment.
The supreme court last month ordered the detention of other senior officials including former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal for "dissipation of public funds".
The military is now the main decision-maker, and its chief of staff, Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah, has repeatedly pledged to help the judiciary investigate corruption cases.
Protesters are now seeking the resignation of interim president Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, whom they see as close to Bouteflika.
The government has postponed a presidential election previously planned for July 4, citing a lack of candidates. No new date has been set for the vote.
Bensalah last week called on political parties and national figures to take part in an "inclusive dialogue" to prepare for elections, but some opposition leaders rejected the offer.


Iran warns of lengthy ‘new way of life’ as virus deaths rise

An Iranian army soldier walks through a temporary hospital in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP)
Updated 30 March 2020

Iran warns of lengthy ‘new way of life’ as virus deaths rise

  • Without an official lockdown in place, the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay home “as much as possible”

TEHRAN: President Hassan Rouhani has warned that “the new way of life” in Iran was likely to be prolonged, as its declared death toll from the novel coronavirus rose to 2,640.
Iran is one of the countries worst-hit by the virus, which first originated in China.
Iran announced its first infection cases on Feb. 19, but a senior health official has acknowledged that the virus was likely to have already reached Iran in January.
At his daily news briefing, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 123 more people in Iran had died from the virus in the past 24 hours.
He reported 2,901 new cases of COVID-19 infection, bringing the overall number of officially confirmed cases to 38,309.
According to the official, 12,391 of those hospitalized have recovered and 3,467 are in “critical” condition.
“We must prepare to live with this virus until a treatment or vaccine is discovered, which has not yet happened to date,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a Cabinet meeting.
“The new way of life we have adopted” is to everyone’s benefit, he said, adding that “these changes will likely have to stay in place for some time.”
After weeks of refraining from imposing lockdown or quarantine measures, Tehran decided Wednesday to ban all intercity travel until at least April 8.
Without an official lockdown in place, the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay home “as much as possible.” Schools and universities in some provinces were closed in late February and the measure was later extended to the whole country.
After Rouhani’s warning, the reopening of schools following this year’s new year holidays of March 19 to April 3 appears unlikely.

FASTFACT

Iran announced its first infection cases on Feb. 19, but a senior health official has acknowledged that the virus was likely to have already reached Iran in January

On a positive note, Rouhani said he had been told by top health experts and doctors that “in some provinces we have passed the peak (of the epidemic) and are on a downward trajectory.”
Several Iranian government officials and notable figures have been infected by the new coronavirus, some of whom have died.
The most recent case of infection was Mohammed-Reza Khatami, brother of former president Mohammad Khatami and an ex-deputy speaker of parliament.
He is currently hospitalized.
Iraj Harirchi, a deputy health minister who tested positive for the virus in late February, has returned to public life and appeared on state television to emphasize safety precautions.