FILE - This Friday April 10, 2009 file photo shows Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, left, and his brother Said Bouteflika arrives at his campaign headquarters in the Hydra district of Algiers, a day after the Algerian presidential election. The influential younger brother of Algeria's former longtime president was detained Saturday May 4, 2019, for questioning along with two generals who previously ran state security agencies, a security official said. (AP Photo, File)

Algeria military court jails ex-leader's brother, 2 generals

May 05, 2019 - 12:54 pm

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — The influential brother of former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and two generals once in charge of intelligence have been jailed while under investigation for plotting against the state, a military tribunal said Sunday.

A statement from the tribunal in Blida, south of Algiers, said the prosecutor appointed a judge to investigate the ex-president's young brother Said Bouteflika and generals Mohamed Mediene, known as Toufik, and Athmane Tartag.

They are being investigated for "plotting against the authority of the state" and "attacking the authority of the army," the statement said.

The arrest of three key figures from the era of Bouteflika put a new dent in the crumbling power structure of this gas-rich North African nation, which is in the midst of a deep political crisis triggered by a popular but peaceful revolt.

Bouteflika, 82 and ailing, resigned April 2 under pressure from the army and weeks of street protests after two decades in power. His bid to seek a fifth mandate had sent defiant citizens into the streets.

A dramatic video aired on state television showed the three climbing the steps to the military tribunal.

Said Bouteflika, 61, was rarely seen during his brother's presidency and the two generals almost never, giving special impact to the video shown to the nation.

The younger Bouteflika was widely viewed in Algeria as the man at the center of a political system that enriched the nation's industrialists while young Algerians suffered rates of high unemployment. He has been accused of usurping presidential powers after his brother's 2013 stroke.

Mediene, best known as Toufik, was for 25 years in charge of military intelligence service DRS and one of Algeria's most powerful men until he was forced to resign in 2015.

Tartag headed the DSS state security service until last month, when he quietly stepped down after Bouteflika resigned.

Powerful army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah had publicly accused Toufik of plotting against the popular revolt, saying in an April 16 speech he had "irrefutable proof" and warning of legal action if he did not stop.

Without naming him, Gaid Salah denounced Said Bouteflika in another speech, condemning "plots and abject conspiracies, fomented by a gang that made fraud, wrongdoing and duplicity its vocation."

A wider anti-corruption campaign, encouraged by the army chief, is in progress with several top industrialists currently jailed.

However, Gaid Salah himself is taking criticism from some citizens wary of his direct role in the course of events, fearing the military, which has long run the country from behind the scenes, will usurp the people's revolt.

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Ganley reported from Paris.

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Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this report.

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