The Algiers Criminal Court on Sunday opened the hearing of 53 witnesses in the trial of former Culture Minister Khalida Toumi for allegations of corruption under the regime of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Toumi, who served as culture minister for 12 years, is accused of wasting public funds on cultural events and granting illegal privileges.
She became the 12th ex-minister to be detained since Bouteflika resigned in April 2019 under pressure from protesters who called for the ruling elite to be removed and those suspected of involvement in corruption to be prosecuted.
Most of the witnesses are from the culture and arts sector, including heads of departments responsible for implementing cultural programs, local officials and other employees of the governorates where the events took place.
According to the prosecution, hundreds of billions have been spent “without accountability or control”.
The trial began Thursday after several delays. Toumi said she was only carrying out Bouteflika’s orders and not interfering with the central management fund.
“I had nothing to do with the money that was spent on cultural events and festivals. Anyway, your honor, I was a minister, not an executive director,” she told the judge.
The former minister said she was the victim of media campaigns that paved the way for her arrest, without specifying the identity of those who gave the order to launch these campaigns.