The Algerian Public Prosecution service announced, Wednesday, the referral of a new batch of current and former officials, including ministers, to the Supreme Court to investigate corruption charges relating to facilities that have allegedly been offered to businessman Mahieddine Tahkout.
The judicial investigation into Tahkout has been referred to the Attorney General at the Supreme Court.
Tahkout, who was arrested a week ago, is known to have been close to the former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia.
Tahkout is accused of corruption related to obtaining unjustified privileges in investment projects in vehicles installation and assembly and other files related to university students transport buses and the urban transport of Algiers.
Tahkout has contracts for transport to dozens of Algerian universities, which began in the 1990s with the University of Algiers and later expanded in the 2000s to include others across many provinces.
The businessman has also set up two vehicles installation and assembly factories, the first for the South Korean Hyundai in Tiaret Province (west), and the second for the Japanese Suzuki in Saïda Province (west).
Tahkout has also rental contracts of dozens of buses for the Urban and Suburban Transport Company of Algiers (ETUSA, governmental company), which he has signed with Algiers Province three years ago.
According to the statement, the investigation of the case includes a number of senior officials, including Ahmed Ouyahia (former Prime Minister) and a number of ministers and governors.
The statement also mentioned Abdul Qadir bin Masood, the current Minister of Tourism and former governor of Tissemsilt Province (centre), Abdelghani Zaalane former Minister of Public Works and Transport and Youcef Yousfi, former Minister of Industry and Mines.
The statement from the Prosecution service also includes refers to a number of governors, namely:
- Abdelkader Zoukh, the former governor of the capital,
- Saif Al-Islam Luh, the current governor of Saïda (west),
- Djelloul Boukerbila, the former governor of Saïda,
- Abdallah Ben Mansour, the former governor of El Bayadh (Southwest),
- Khanfar Mohammed Jamal, the current governor of El Bayadh,
- Fawzi Ben Hussein, a former governor of Skikda (east) and Chlef (west).
The Public Prosecution’s statement pointed out that, considering their positions at the time of committing the alleged incidents, the officials concerned with the investigation benefit from the procedures of judicial privilege under the Algerian Code of Criminal Procedure.
Judicial privilege is a procedure whereby the President of the Republic, the ministers, and the governors are prosecuted on charges relating to their duties before the Supreme Court, not at the level of the normal trial courts.
Weeks ago, the Algerian judiciary has launched investigations with Bouteflika-era officials, leading to the temporary detention of former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal, as well as other ministers and businesspersons affiliated to the resigned president.