Algeria Sends Two Ex-intelligence Chiefs to Prison
Ongoing street protests in Algeria could be making a further dent in the country’s ruling elite, with Wednesday’s sentencing of four once-powerful figures, including two former heads of the intelligence service. A military court near the capital Algiers handed down 15-year sentences for Mohamed Mediene, Bachir Tartag, Said Bouteflika and Louisa Hanoune. As the country’s top spy, Mediene was often considered the power behind the throne occupied for 20 years by Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013 and was forced to step down in April following widespread protests after he announced his intent to serve yet another term in office. Said Bouteflika often stepped in as the public face of the presidency by orchestrating government activities in place of his ailing brother. Tartag succeed Mediene as head of intelligence, and Hanoune headed a pro-Bouteflika party. Protesters have been saying that Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s departure was insufficient, and that widespread corruption and influence peddling has to be rooted out from among the country’s power elite. They are further displeased that instead of truly democratic elections come December, Algeria’s military, as powerful as ever, could have a hand in the outcome.