Algeria’s Supreme Court has jailed former Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal in an anti-corruption crackdown – the second former head of government in two days to be sent to prison while his case is investigated.
The court later ordered the detention of former trade minister Amara Benyounes over alleged involvement in corruption, private channel Ennahar TV reported.
A statement on Thursday by the prosecutor’s office said that Sellal is being investigated for “corruption and dilapidation of public funds” among other things.
Sellal, 70, was questioned earlier Thursday by an investigative judge at the Supreme Court in cases related to waste of public money, abuse of power and illegal favouritism, Algeria‘s official news agency APS reported, without providing further details.
Benyounes, who served under Sellal from April 2014 to July 2015, is also the leader of the pro-government party the Algerian Popular Movement.
Sellal’s detention came a day after former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, a leading political figure forced out in March, was sent to the El Harrach prison – in which Sellal was jailed.
The two officials both served as prime ministers under long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to resign in April in the wake of nationwide protests and pressure from the country’s powerful military.
The army is now the most powerful institution in the country and its chief Ahmed Gaid Salah has urged the judiciary to investigate all people suspected of involvement in corruption.
Sellal, who in addition to holding the PM position from 2014-2017, also served as Bouteflika’s presidential campaign manager.
He is among 12 former government officials from the Bouteflika era who were referred to the Supreme Court for investigations into alleged corruption last month.
Bouteflika, 82, ruled the country for two decades in an era dominated by cronyism and mismanagement.
Since his resignation, Algeria has launched a crackdown against senior officials and businessmen who were seen as being part of his inner circle, seeking the removal of the ruling elite and the prosecution of people seen by demonstrators as corrupt.
Prominent figures under investigation include former energy minister Chakib Khelil and Bouteflika’s brother Said.
State media reported that on Thursday, Algerian police also arrested Mourad Eulmi, head of the private firm SOVAC, a partner of Germany’s Volkswagen AG, at a car assembly plant in the western province of Relizane over corruption allegations.