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Algeria: Sonatrach trial opens

The long-awaited trial of senior officials implicated in three alleged corruption scandals involving state energy giant Sonatrach opened on 15 March, but ground to a halt the same day. The defence withdrew from proceedings following wrangling over procedures, inefficiencies (such as the Italian translator failing to show), protests that only 22 of the 60 witnesses requested had been called to the court, and concerns over the long detention of a number of prominent defendants. Even before the latest postponement, a generally sceptical press argued that key witnesses were missing, headed by former energy and mines minister Chakib Khelil, who is living in the US (where he holds a green card but not a passport).

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