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Algerian judges sacked as regime clings on to power

ALGERIAN judges have hit out at the “illegal” arrest of two of their colleagues and the sacking of a prosecutor, warning against government attempts to undermine trust in the judiciary.

The National Union of Judges condemned Justice Minister Belkacem Zeghmati, who was appointed earlier this month to replace Slimane Brahmi, saying the legal reasoning behind the decisions was “flawed.”

Mr Brahmi was appointed as head of Algeria’s judiciary on March 31, just days before the resignation of authoritarian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Mr Bouteflika was forced to stand down in the wake of mass protests demanding democratic change.

Demonstrations have continued as Algerians press for those associated with the former regime, including interim President Abdelkader Bensalah, to be to swept aside.

A series of high-profile arrests have been made on corruption charges. Those held include business leaders and former prime ministers. And Mr Bouteflika’s brother Said and two former intelligence chiefs are awaiting trial on charges of “harming the army’s authority and plotting against state authority.”

Recent reshuffles in the country’s powerful armed forces have not quelled the protesters’ demands for the resignation of Mr Bensalah, along with Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui and military chief Ahmed Gaid Salah.

A spokesman for the union said the the judges’ arrest was a breach of the basic law of the judiciary. “[The basic law] is a guarantee to protect the reputation and status of the judicial authority from all that would shake the citizen’s trust in it,” the spokesman said, condemning “this flagrant violation of the provisions of the law by the bodies of the Ministry of Justice.”

Supporters of the popular movement to kick out the remnants of the old regime gathered to demonstrate in Algiers on Friday for the 26th consecutive week.

Elections planned for July 4 were scrapped due to lack of popular support or confidence. Judges refused to administer elections, threatening strike action if they went ahead.

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