May 5, 2019 / 4:31 PM / 19 days ago

Brother of Algeria's ex-President Bouteflika placed in custody by military judge - state tv

ALGIERS (Reuters) - An Algerian military judge has placed the youngest brother of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and two former intelligence chiefs in custody, state TV reported, joining a string of businessmen and officials under investigation over corruption ahead of a presidential election.

FILE PHOTO: People gesture and carry a mock hangman with the faces of Algerian businessman Ali Haddad, former prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia and Said Bouteflika, brother of former Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, during a protest to push for the removal of the current political structure, Algiers, Algeria, April 5, 2019. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina/File Photo

Said Bouteflika and the two generals, Athmane Tartag and Mohamed Mediene, were arrested on Saturday, state TV said on Sunday.

The three are under investigation over “harming the army’s authority and plotting against state authority”, it said, quoting a statement from the prosecutor at the military court of Blida, south of Algiers.

It did not elaborate on the allegations but the news that the three have been detained may go some way to satisfying protesters in Algeria who have demanded a broad overhaul of the political system since President Bouteflika stepped down last month.

TV footage showed the defendants entering the court near a military base, 40 km from Algiers.

Said Bouteflika, who served as a top adviser to the presidency, acted as Algeria’s de facto ruler after his brother suffered a stroke in 2013 that left him in a wheelchair.

Mediene had been intelligence chief for 25 years until his dismissal by Bouteflika in 2015.

Massive protests calling for a radical change to Bouteflika’s government pushed the ailing president to resign on April 2. Demonstrators continue to demand the removal of all those linked the former administration.

Army chief of staff Ahmed Gaed Salah has promised to rid the country of corrupt politicians, oligarchs and military officials to restore confidence among the people.

Last month he accused Mediene of trying to undermine the transition that is due to end with the presidential election on July 4.

Several businessmen, including the country’s richest man, Issad Rebrab, have been placed in custody pending completion of investigations of corruption allegations.

Finance Minister Mohamed Loukal and former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyhia also appeared in an Algiers court last week on charges related to “dissipation of public funds”.

Protesters are also seeking the resignation of Prime Minister Nouredine Bedoui and interim president Abdelkader Bensalah, who replaced Bouteflika for 90 days to oversee the election,

Bensalah, head of the upper house of parliament, is considered by Algerians as part of the ruling elite that has run the country since independence from France in 1962.

Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Editing by Frances Kerry and David Goodman

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