The butchers, allegedly conspiring with four vets and the director of the El-Harrach abattoir in the eastern suburbs of Algiers, sold the meat in the form of minced steak and spicy sausages, Algerian radio reported on Saturday. 

Customers at markets in the city centre and the working class districts of Bab al-0ued and al-Muradia found the knock-down prices irresistible during Ramadan, which began on 27 October, especially as mince is used in many of the traditional dishes during the fasting month.

The donkeys were allegedly brought in from all over the country to be slaughtered at the abattoir where the vets certified them as beef. The 10 men reportedly managed to sell more than 57,000kg of meat after killing around 1500 donkeys.

The police were able to rescue around a dozen animals awaiting slaughter and confiscated nearly 2000kg of meat ready for delivery.