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Algeria clears Bouteflika's brother of conspiracy

While Said Bouteflika remains in detention pending corruption charges, military court frees former spy chief
In 19 May 2012 file photo, Said Bouteflika attends the Algiers funeral of the late singer Warda Al-Jazairia (AFP)

An Algerian court cleared former president Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika's once powerful brother Said of conspiracy charges in a retrial on Saturday, the official APS agency reported.

The military appeals court also acquitted two former spy chiefs, Mohamed Mediene and his less influential successor, Bachir Tartag, who were jailed in 2019 during the "Hirak" mass protests.

Mediene, also known as General Toufik, headed the all-powerful DRS intelligence agency from its foundation in 1990 up to his fall from grace in 2015.

Said Bouteflika, who was detained in May 2019, was long seen as the real power running the North African country after his brother suffered a stroke in 2013 that left him nearly incapacitated. 

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He was arrested a month after Bouteflika quit office following mass protests against his bid for a fifth term.

The three were given 15-year prison sentences in September 2019 on charges of conspiracy against the state.

While Mediene was freed on Saturday, Said Bouteflika and Tartag remain in detention pending corruption charges in a civilian court, according to a court official.

"After deliberations, the court... rescinded the original ruling and acquitted all the defendants," lawyer Khaled Berghel told APS.

The co-defendants, along with Louisa Hanoune, former secretary general of the Workers' Party, were accused of meeting in March 2019 and plotting to derail plans by the army high command to force the departure of Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika.

Said Bouteflika allegedly wanted the intelligence bosses to fire the army chief of staff at the time, General Ahmed Gaid Salah.

Their jailing marked a success for the Hirak movement, pushing the army to topple Bouteflika in April 2019 after 20 years in office.