Former Algerian president’s brother Said Bouteflika may face death penalty as opposition digs in

Former Algerian president’s brother Said Bouteflika may face death penalty as opposition digs in
Algerian media have reported that Said Bouteflika, once seen as a likely successor to his brother, could face the death penalty for charges including "conspiring against the state's authority"
2 min read
07 May, 2019
Algerian TV shows Said Bouteflika arriving at a military court on Monday (Getty)

The brother of former Algerian president Abdulaziz Bouteflika may face the death penalty, the Algerian newspaper El-Khabar reported today.

Said Bouteflika, widely seen as the power behind the throne during his ailing brother's rule, was arrested on Sunday along with the former head of Algerian intelligence, Mohamed Mediene, known as Toufik, and former intelligence coordinator Athmane Tartag.

El-Khabar said that the three men faced charges of "interfering with the army's authority" and "conspiring against the authority of the state".

It quoted a lawyer, Ammar Khebaba, as saying that military courts were also investigating possible criminal activity by the men at army facilities. The charges carry a sentence of anything between 20 years imprisonment and the death penalty.

Algerian TV showed dramatic footage of Said Bouteflika and the intelligence chiefs being taken to court on Sunday, interrupting its regular programming.

Such scenes were unthinkable only a few months ago, when Said was seen as the likely successor to 82-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013 and has not made any public speeches since then.

Bouteflika resigned on 2 April 2019, after widespread protests following his announcement that he would be seeking a fifth presidential term.

Meanwhile the Algerian opposition said Monday it would not take part in further dialogue with the acting president, Abdelkader Bensalah, and would reject holding presidential elections at their scheduled time in July.

The Islamist Justice and Development Front, which has been hosting weekly meetings of opposition parties, said that it was committed to "ending the remnants of the political authority which has lost its legitimacy and has been rejected by the people" and that any dialogue "administered by this authority” would be unsuccessful.

Acting President Bensalah had said that power would be handed to an elected president following presidential elections on 4 July and called on Algerian political forces to take part in a dialogue "which would provide satisfactory conditions for the holding of presidential elections at their specified time".

Opposition parties have previously boycotted presidential elections, accusing the government of fraud.

Former President Bouteflika won the 2014 elections with 82% of the vote.