Two former prime ministers of Algeria have been convicted and sentenced to prison for corruption-related charges in a landmark trial.
Cheers rose from a crowd of pro-democracy activists who gathered outside the courthouse in Algiers Tuesday to hear the verdict against Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal.
Ouyahia was sentenced to 15 years in prison and $16,000 in fines. Sellal was sentenced to 12 years in prison and $8,000 in fines. They were accused of abusing authority in a car manufacturing embezzlement scandal.
Both served under longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Protesters pushed out Bouteflika earlier this year in part because of anger at corruption.
Some protesters shouted “Gang of gangsters!” and many waved or wore Algerian flags. Police surrounded the courthouse because so many protesters were trying to get into the building see the trial in person.
Unusually, the trial was televised, as authorities sought to show the public that they are taking protesters’ concerns about corruption seriously.
It was the most high-profile corruption conviction since the peaceful protest movement began in February.