Africa

Said Bouteflika: Brother of deposed Algerian leader sentenced to 15 years

Said Bouteflika pictured in 2012, Image copyright AFP
Image caption Said Bouteflika was a key figure among Algeria's leadership until President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was ousted

The brother of Algeria's deposed former president has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiring against the state and undermining the military.

Said Bouteflika was widely seen as the real power behind the presidency after his older brother, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, suffered a stroke in 2013.

Two former secret service chiefs and a political party head were also sentenced after the two-day trial.

President Bouteflika was ousted in April following pro-democracy protests.

The defendants were detained in May during a wave of arrests targeting the former president's inner circle.

The ailing ex-leader is in a residence west of Algiers, and is not expected to face trial.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Protests continue to be held every Friday - including this one on 20 September

The current authorities in Algeria have promised to bring what they call President Bouteflika's "gang" to justice, the BBC's Ahmed Rouaba says.

This trial is designed to show that the government is serious about fighting corruption at the highest level, our reporter adds.

What were the allegations?

The charges related to an alleged meeting between Said Bouteflika and his co-defendants in March.

He was accused of conspiring with two secret service leaders, Gen Mohamed Mediene and Gen Athmane Tartag, and the head of The Workers' Party, Louisa Hanoune.

They were said to be considering declaring a state of emergency and firing the army chief, Gen Ahmed Gaid Salah, as protests against the president were mounting.

Who is Said Bouteflika?

Ahmed Rouaba, BBC Africa

Image copyright Getty Images

Said Bouteflika, who is in his early 60s, rose to fame after his brother suffered a stroke in 2013.

He became a key link between the ailing president, the military and the government.

Although he did not have a formal position, he was known as a senior adviser and the opposition media labelled him the "Vice-King".

But Said Bouteflika was very discreet and never gave a media interview.

Nevertheless he was known for being a Trotskyite, and Workers' Party leader Louisa Hanoune, who was jailed with him, is a close friend.

Who is now in charge?

Gen Salah remains the head of the armed forces and is considered to be the most powerful man in the country, but the speaker of parliament's upper house, Abdelkader Bensalah, is the interim president.

Both men held senior posts in the former government.

Nevertheless, they say they are committed to dealing with alleged corruption under President Bouteflika.

Several former cabinet ministers, political leaders and businessmen linked to the ousted leader have also been detained.

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Media captionProtesters celebrated after Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April

But the authorities have not yet held a presidential election that would pave the way to the return of constitutional rule. They have called one for 12 December.

Protesters, who are still taking to the streets every Friday, have rejected elections under the current government, and are calling for the removal of all officials associated with the Bouteflika regime.

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