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Algeria ex-presidential guard head gets 3 years in jail

By AFP - Dec 03,2015 - Last updated at Dec 03,2015

ALGIERS — A military court has sentenced the former head of Algeria's presidential guard to three years in jail over a shooting at President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's residence, a security source said Thursday.

General Mejdoub Kehal, better known as Djamel, was tried behind closed doors over the incident in July at the residence in Zeralda, 30 kilometres west of Algiers.

Immediately after the sentencing on Wednesday night, the defence counsel called for the case to be referred to Algeria's cassation court.

The general was released pending the judicial process, as military sentences in Algeria cannot be appealed.

A second senior official, a colonel whose identity was not immediately known, was sentenced to three years in prison.

A lieutenant who fired the shots and has also been sentenced to a three-year jail term appeared as a witness in the trial.

Djamel was dismissed from his post after the shooting and in October was prevented from boarding a flight to Paris. He had been chief of security for Bouteflika from 2004.

There has never been any official account but press reports at the time said three officers were accused of negligence over the gunfire, which sparked panic.

The director for internal security, Ali Bendaoud, and the head of the Republican Guard, Ahmed Moulay Meliani, were also replaced.

Since his election to a fourth term in April 2014, Bouteflika and his aides have pushed through major changes in Algeria's shadowy intelligence and security apparatus, which some considered a "parallel state" within the North African nation.

Last week, Algeria's former counterterrorism chief Abdelkader Ait-Ouarabi, better known as General Hassan, was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of destroying documents and disobeying military orders.

His closed-door trial was the country's first ever prosecution of a high-ranking secret service officer.

 

In September, the president replaced General Mohamed Mediene — better known as General Toufik — after 25 years at the head of the powerful DRS intelligence agency.

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