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Ex-Algerian PM jailed in sweeping anti-corruption campaign

June 12, 2019
FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 17, 2018 file photo, Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia listens to a question during a press conference in Algiers, Algeria. Former Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia has been imprisoned by a Supreme Court judge investigating corruption, taken in a police van to a prison on the outskirts of the capital. Numerous journalists saw the van leave the Supreme Court on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 for the prison of El Harrach after an hours-long appearance before the investigating judge. (AP Photo/Anis Belghoul, file)

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Former Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia was imprisoned Wednesday by a Supreme Court judge investigating corruption, taken in a police van to a prison on the outskirts of the capital.

Numerous journalists saw the van leave the Supreme Court for the prison of El Harrach after Ouyahia made an hours-long appearance before the investigating judge. Video posted on Twitter by several Algerian sites showed crowds near the prison pounding on the van, which was escorted by police.

Ouyahia, replaced in March, was the latest person held in a sweeping anti-corruption campaign amid a people’s revolt to do away with the era led by ex-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. He resigned April 2 after two decades in office under pressure from weekly anti-government demonstrations and the powerful army chief.

The former president’s brother, Said Bouteflika, is among a raft of leading figures in government and industry jailed on charges of corruption. It is widely believed Said Bouteflika held the reins of power in Algeria after the president suffered a 2013 stroke that left him unable to speak clearly , partially paralyzed — and rarely seen in public.

Two retired generals who headed top intelligence units also were jailed on corruption charges.

Ouyahia was not the only ordered to prison Wednesday. Abdelghani Zaalane, former public works and transport minister, also was sent to El Harrach prison, the state ENTV channel reported.

Ouyahia was a major figure for years in Algerian political life and served several times as prime minister. Like most of the other people detained in the corruption investigation, he was close to President Bouteflika.

The reliable online site TSA Algeria quoted a Justice Ministry statement dated May 26 saying a dozen former high government officials were being investigated for acts concerning “the conclusion of public works contracts contrary to rules and laws in place.”

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This version corrects the resignation date of former President Bouteflika to April 2, not Feb. 2.

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