Algeria: 20 years in prison against a former Minister of Energy

Algérie

An Algerian court confirms on appeal the sentence of 20 years in prison for the former Minister of Energy Chakib Khelil. The latter was in office for 10 years under President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, according to the official agency APS.

The court in Algiers sentenced Chakib Khelil to 20 years in prison. He must also pay a fine of two million dinars (13,000 euros). The sentence of five years in prison for the former head of Sonatrach, Mohamed Meziane, was also confirmed.

His deputy, Abdelhafidh Feghouli, vice-president of Sonatrach, was sentenced on appeal to six years in prison. This sentence was pronounced in the first instance.

Sonatrach officials are accused of having favored the Italian Group Saipem. And this, in particular, during the conclusion of the contract for the realization of the gas complex of Arzew (Oran, West). This was done at the expense of an Emirati company and this, on the instructions of Mr. Khelil.

The court also sentenced two representatives of the Italian group Saipem to five years in prison each. Saipen announced in a statement its intention to “challenge the decision of the Court of Appeal of Algiers before the Algerian Supreme Court”.

In 2013, the Algerian judiciary issued an international arrest warrant for Mr. Khelil. This was in the context of an investigation into the payment of commissions by a subsidiary of the Italian giant ENI for obtaining contracts in Algeria. This scandal has been the subject of several trials in Italy and Algeria.

A refugee in the United States, he had returned to Algeria in 2016 after the charges against him were dropped.

After the fall of Bouteflika in 2019, the judiciary launched a series of investigations into the affairs in which the men in his entourage were involved.

Thus, two other former ministers of Solidarity were convicted in the first instance. Djamel Ould Abbes and Said Berkat, prosecuted for corruption, were sentenced to six and four years in prison respectively, according to APS.

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