Jailed Algerian ex-minister dies of coronavirus in prison

Jailed Algerian ex-minister dies of coronavirus in prison
2 min read
Former Algerian telecommunications minister Moussa Benhamadi has died of Covid-19 at the El Harrach prison, where he was awaiting trial on corruption charges
Moussa Benhamadi died of coronavirus in detention [AFP]

A former Algerian cabinet minister detained in a corruption case has died from the Covid-19 illness, a news website reported on Saturday, quoting his brother.

Ex-telecommunications minister Moussa Benhamadi, once close to ex-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, contracted the novel coronavirus earlier this month and died on Friday, said his brother Hocine Benhamadi. He was 67.

"He contracted the virus on July 4 and was only transferred to hospital in Algiers on July 13," the brother told the website of French-language daily Liberte.

Moussa Benhamadi had been held in pre-trial detention at El Harrach prison since September 2019 as part of an investigation into corruption involving the Algerian high-tech firm Condor Electronics.

Bouteflika, who was Algeria's longest-serving president, was forced to resign in April last year after losing the backing of the army amid massive street protests against his decision to seek a fifth term.

Read also: Covid-19 gives Algeria's repressive state the edge, for now

Following his departure, authorities launched a string of graft investigations into members of his entourage accused of abusing their power.

Bouteflika's powerful brother Said and two former intelligence chiefs have been jailed, as have powerful businessmen and former government ministers.

Benhamadi's brother and head of Condor Electronics Abderahmane Benhamadi is also detained in a corruption case.

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