Algeria ex-energy minister goes on trial for graft

Algerian former energy minister Chakib Khelil. (Photo: Wikimedia)
ALGIERS — An Algerian former energy minister under late president Abdelaziz Bouteflika went on trial on Monday on corruption charges.اضافة اعلان

Chakib Khelil, in post for half of Bouteflika's two-decade reign, is on trial in absentia in a case also involving former director of state hydrocarbons giant Sonatrach, Mohamed Meziane.

The two are facing charges of graft over a natural gas complex near Oran, as well as "granting of undue privileges", "abuse of office", and "conclusion of contracts in violation of laws and regulations", according to the official APS agency.

Meziane is already in prison over another graft case, one of several high-ranking Bouteflika-era officials to have been jailed since the strongman was forced to resign in 2019 following vast protests against his bid for a fifth term.

Several foreign energy firms are also facing charges in the trial, said APS, without naming them.

Khelil, now 82, quit his post in 2010 and moved to the US after being associated with a scandal involving high-ranking Sonatrach officials who were later jailed for corruption.

In 2013, authorities issued an international arrest warrant against him over commissions allegedly paid by Italian energy giant ENI for contracts in Algeria, the subject of various investigations in both countries.

Khelil returned to Algeria in 2016 after the cases were dropped — then left again after Bouteflika's resignation, which sparked a string of investigations into graft by his officials.

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