Algeria conditionally frees ex-finance chief

Karim Djoudi and former transport minister conditionally released after appearing before supreme court's investigating magistrate in connection with disappearance of public funds, abuse of office.

ALGIERS - An Algerian investigating magistrate on Sunday conditionally released former finance minister Karim Djoudi as part of an ongoing corruption probe, the supreme court said Sunday.

Karim Djoudi, finance minister between 2007 and 2014, appeared before the supreme court's investigating magistrate in connection with the disappearance of public funds and abuse of office.

The supreme court is the only judicial body with jurisdiction over offences committed in public office by government members, local officials and high magistrates.

Former transport minister Amar Tou was also conditionally released after appearing before the investigating magistrate, the supreme court said in a statement.

Djoudi and Tou are among 12 former Algerian officials subject to preliminary probes for alleged criminal offences.

Last week, a judge placed in detention two former prime ministers, Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal.

Both served under president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned on April 2 amid huge protests against his two-decade rule.

Demonstrations have continued since the ailing head of state stepped down, as protesters demand the fall of regime insiders and the establishment of independent institutions.

Former trade minister Amara Benyounes has been detained in El Harrach prison and former public works minister Abdelghani Zaalane has been conditionally released.

Observers fear that the arrests, while seemingly seeking to placate protesters, are the result of jockeying for power among key insider factions.