People carry a national flag as they celebrate on the streets after Algeria’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, submitted his resignation, in Algiers, Algeria, April 2 2019. Picture: REUTERS/RAMZI BOUDINA
People carry a national flag as they celebrate on the streets after Algeria’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, submitted his resignation, in Algiers, Algeria, April 2 2019. Picture: REUTERS/RAMZI BOUDINA

Algiers — Algeria’s finance minister and former police chief appeared in court on Monday, joining a list of powerful figures to face judicial investigations since mass protests forced the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika early in April.

Finance minister Mohamed Loukal — a former central bank governor who got the job from Bouteflika only in March — appeared in Algiers as part of an investigation into suspected misuse of public funds, state TV reported.

Former police chief Abdelghani Hamel — who was sacked in 2018 by Bouteflika for undisclosed reasons — and his son appeared in Tipaza, west of the capital, as part of an investigation into “illegal activities, influence peddling, misappropriation of land and abuse of office”, state TV said.

There was no immediate comment from any of the men or lawyers defending them. Under the Algerian legal system judges can look into ongoing investigations and decide whether to put people in custody or release them until inquiries are complete.

Protesters have taken to the streets since February, calling for the ousting of Bouteflika and the dismantling of the political elite that surrounded his 20-year rule.

Bouteflika resigned on April 2 under pressure from the army, but the protests have continued with calls for a handover to a new civilian-led government.

At least five billionaires, some of them close to Bouteflika, have been placed in custody, accused of involvement in corruption scandals.

Abdelkader Bensalah, head of the upper house of parliament, became interim president after Bouteflika's departure. Presidential elections are scheduled for July 4. 

Reuters