The public prosecutor at the Tlemcen judicial council in Algeria on Tuesday confirmed that former Culture Minister Khalida Toumi has escaped to France before facing charges of corruption, the state news agency APS reported.
“Toumi and Abdel-Wahab Nouri, former governor of Tlemcen, have not yet been heard in a case about manipulating bills for the purchase of a giant tent and its disappearance immediately after use in a festival which celebrates Tlemcen as the capital of Islamic culture,” APS quoted the prosecutor as saying.
The tent was bought from Germany with 200 million Algerian dinars (about 168,000 U.S. dollars).
“The investigating judge on this case could not hear Toumi, who escaped to France, and Nouri, who is suffering from an incurable disease and unable to appear before the court,” he added.
Some former government senior officials, including former prime ministers Abdelmalek Sellal and Ahmed Ouyahia, were already held in custody.
This legal crackdown on corruption coincides with protests in Algeria since Feb. 22 with demands to hold accountable officials responsible for bad governance and corruption.