Brother of Algeria's Bouteflika, ex-spy bosses in custody

Algiers (AFP) –


An Algerian military judge on Sunday remanded the powerful brother of deposed president Abdelaziz Bouteflika and two former intelligence chiefs in custody on charges including "conspiring" against the state, prosecutors said.

The arrests of Said Bouteflika, General Mohamed Mediene and Athmane Tartag on Saturday were the highest-profile legal moves against loyalists of the ex-leader since he resigned last month in the face of mass protests and pressure from the army.

Military prosecutors in the southern town of Blida said in a statement the men had been placed under provisionary detention Sunday on accusations of "undermining the authority of the army" and "conspiring against the authority of the state".

Said Bouteflika, 61, was widely seen as the real power behind the presidency after his brother suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013.

Mediene, known as Toufik, headed the all-powerful secret service for 25 years and Tartag served as intelligence coordinator.

Over a month after the departure of Bouteflika huge demonstrations are ongoing in the North African country with people demanding the removal of regime insiders.

Algeria's army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah has become a key powerbroker since breaking with president Bouteflika and pushing for him to go.

Salah has in recent weeks accused Mediene of being involved in a plot against Algeria.

In mid-April he gave what he called "a final warning" to the former intelligence chief whom he accused of conspiring to "hinder solutions to ending the crisis" in the protest-hit country.

Salah had helped Abdelaziz Bouteflika to neuter the DRS, which was long considered a "state within a state".

Tartag -- described by Algerian media as close to the former president's brother -- was fired just after Bouteflika's resignation.