Algeria ex-car boss gets reduced corruption sentence

Algeria’s appeals court on Wednesday reduced a prison sentence for a former car industry boss who amassed riches under ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, state media reported.

Mahiedine Tahkout’s sentence was reduced to 14 years in prison, two years less than he received in July, in one of the country’s biggest post-Bouteflika era corruption trials.

The court also reduced from 10 to five years the sentences of two co-defendants, former prime ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal, both already convicted multiple times in other trials, said the official APS news agency.

Two other former ministers of industry and transport received suspended prison sentences, while another former transport minister, Abdelghani Zaalane, was acquitted.

In detention since June 2019, Tahkout was a close associate of Bouteflika who ran an assembly plant of the South Korean manufacturer Hyundai.

He was a small trader who made a fortune by building a bus company and winning concessions in towns and universities.

Bouteflika, who was Algeria’s longest-serving president, was forced to resign in April last year after losing the backing of the army amid enormous street protests against his decision to seek a fifth term.

Following his departure, authorities launched a string of graft investigations against several high-ranking Bouteflika-era officials.