Justice Minister: “Khalifa dossier to remain open whatever Britain position is”

Justice Minister, Tayeb Belaiz to El Khabar:

“Khalifa dossier to remain open whatever Britain position is”

El Khabar, 24 March 2008

In this interview with El Khabar Justice Minister Mr. Tayeb Belaiz has raised many issues concerning his sector, while responding to critics on Justice reforms launched in 1999. He has further evoked issues of Abdelmoumen Khalifa’s extradition and the judicial situation of Hassan Hattab.

El Khabar: You used to be a member in the Justice Reform Commission and you have been in charge of the sector for five years. How would you evaluate reforms process being undertaken? And have you any comment to make about critics of the current president of Justice Reform Commission, Mr. Amhand Issad, saying his report has been buried?

Tayeb Belaiz: Well, President Bouteflika has put Justice reforms among priorities of his programme when he came to power in 1999 through installing in October 20 of the same year the national justice reform commission. Five years later we have organized the national conference on justice reforms, later in March 2005, which is an important stage in the process of reforms, while assessing what has been done so far, and reached elaborating a set of recommendations being approved by the participants and considered as the backbone of the Ministry plan of action being materialized steadily in terms of priorities.

El Khabar: Justice Ministry is trying installing what is called as judicial poles to be specialized in dealing with money laundering and narcotic trafficking crimes. This initiative is seen as illegal by some judges mostly as the Constitutional Council has rejected it. Do you have any comment on this issue?

Taib Belaiz: First of all, let me say that the Constitutional Council has never opposed the creation of judicial poles, but opposed creating it in accordance with the law on justice organization as being an organic law since act 122 of the Constitution stipulates that the creation of any judicial institution should be in accordance with an ordinary law. However, the debate being raised on judicial poles is useless because Justice Ministry has done all this within the legality of the Constitution; I mean the creation of judicial institutions specialized in dealing with crimes like money laundering, narcotic etc…

El Khabar: There is a paradox over the judicial situation of the former Emir of Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat GSPC, namely Hassan Hattab. While Home Affairs Minister affirmed that Hattab has surrounded to security services, the General Prosecutor, for Justice Ministry, has denied being informed about that. Would you like give us explanation over this paradox?

Tayeb Belaiz: Cases including several crimes should be resolved in accordance with specific procedures determined by law, and within the necessary time for facts finding and adaptation. Thus, since the so called Hassan Hattab is pursued for several cases, his judicial situation will be treated within the frame of the law.

El Khabar: What about the extradition process of the runaway billionaire Abdelmoumen Rafik Khalifa?

Tayeb Belaiz: …Algeria is still pursuing efforts to extradite Abdelmoumen Khalifa, the main convicted man in the dossier of Khalifa Bank, while submitting a detailed report to British Authorities including strong evidences. Thus, the decision of handing him over is up to the British Justice which is pursuing the trial on the extradition demand submitted by Algeria.
Whatever the decision is, and regardless the position of British Authorities, the dossier will remain open. Khalifa trial process is still continuing in Algeria as investigations are still pursued by both the Supreme Court with owners of judicial competence, while Cheraga court, in Algiers, is investigating with the rest of defendants.

El Khabar: British judicial sources said Algerian Authorities have given guaranties, in terms of the agreement of extradition of 17 Algerian detained in Britain, for not bringing legal actions against them once they are on the Algerian territories. However, two of them have been sentenced to two years once being extradited. Has Algeria really breached the abovementioned promise?

Taib Belaiz Algeria acquires the right to ensure its security and stability and protecting its citizens; while there are among Algerian nationals being extradited from Britain those who are involved in terrorism cases abroad. It requires implementing Republic law on them. However, regardless the position of British Authorities on those people, the Algerian Law gives the right for courts pursuing and trying any Algerian involved in terror acts outside Algeria.


Interview by Hamid Yes/ Translation A.A