Algeria's former PM in supreme court over graft

Ennahar TV reports Ouyahia appears in supreme court as part of anti-corruption investigation.

ALGIERS - Former Algerian prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia who has faced questioning over corruption allegations was jailed on Wednesday, state television reported.

It said a judge at a court hearing ordered Ouyahia to be held in provisional detention at El Harrach prison, an eastern suburb of Algiers, without giving details.

Hundreds of people celebrated the decision outside a prision where prominent businessmen are also being held over corruption allegations, private television channels showed.

Ouyahia appeared in the country's supreme court on Wednesday as part of the anti-graft investigation, private channel Ennahar TV reported. The former PM, who left the government in March as part of a cabinet reshuffle, was being investigated over multiple cases including "awarding illegal privileges", it said, without giving details.

His former transport minister, Abdelghani Zaalane, later also appeared before the court in connection with a corruption investigation.

Their lawyers could not be reached by phone for comment.

State television gave no details of what would happen next in the judicial processes involving Zaalane and Ouyahia, who is the leader of Algeria's second largest party, the Democratic National Rally (RND).

The two politicians are the latest figures to be investigated on corruption allegations since ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced to step down on April 3 following weeks of mass protests demanding the departure of the ruling elite and the prosecution of people demonstrators see as corrupt.

Bouteflika stepped down on April 2 under pressure from the army and protests that broke out on Feb. 22. Zaalane had been named campaign manager for Bouteflika for an April 18 presidential election, which was cancelled.

The army is now the most powerful institution and its chief Ahmed Gaed Salah has urged the judiciary to investigate all people suspected of being involved in corruption.

Several senior figures including another former prime minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, and eight former ministers appeared last month in a court in Algiers on suspicion of corruption.

Bouteflika's youngest brother, Said, and two former intelligence chiefs have been placed in custody by a military judge for "harming the army's authority and plotting against state authority".

Several prominent businessmen, some of them close to Bouteflika, have been detained pending trial.

Protesters are now seeking the departure of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, both seen as part of the elite that has ruled the North African country since independence from France in 1962.

Ouyahia's RND supports the interim government, but is not part of it.

Authorities have postponed a presidential election previously planned for July 4, citing a lack of candidates. No new date has been set for the vote.