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2009-06-30

Algerians thankful for Abdelmoumen Khalifa's extradition

By Fidet Mansour for Magharebia in Algiers – 30/06/09

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After a two-year political and legal wrangle, a British court in Westminster granted a request by Algerian authorities to extradite former "golden boy" Abdelmoumen Khalifa to that country to face justice. Khalifa was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia in 2007 by a court in Blida, east of Algiers, for criminal conspiracy, aggravated theft, embezzlement, and forgery.

The long-awaited verdict, which was passed on Thursday (June 25th), drew numerous reactions from officials, civil society activists and the people.

The first to react was Algerian Minister of Justice Tayeb Belaiz, who praised the British judicial system, adding that it was known for its "complete transparency" and independence. Belaiz called the decision a "victory for Algerian courts, which have always demanded that Abdelmoumen be handed over".

"Algerian courts have given assurances to their British counterparts that the former owner of the Khalifa group will be given a completely transparent retrial," he added. "Khalifa will get a fair trial."

Mustapha Farouk Ksentini, president of the National Consultative Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, welcomed the verdict. The extradition bears witness to "the credibility of the Algerian courts", he noted. "The accused could never have been handed over if the British had any doubts as to whether he would get a fair trial."

Several Algerian lawyers previously involved with the Khalifa case also reacted to the news.

In an interview with daily newspaper El Watan, Miloud Brahimi explained that the verdict passed by the Blida Court in 2007 would be quashed if Khalifa were extradited. "The Algerian judge has been asked to reconsider the whole case in all its aspects", he commented. "The principle of the presumption of innocence is enshrined in the Algerian constitution."

In 2007, Brahimi was the defence lawyer for Rahal Reda, CEO of ENAGEO, which lost 10 million dollars to the Khalifa Bank.

Mohamed Khaled Bourayou, one of the defence lawyers for those charged along Khalifa, told El Watan, "The fact that the British courts were satisfied that Khalifa's extradition would by no means contravene the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a very strong endorsement".

Another Khalifa defence lawyer Mokrane Ait Larbi believes that the Westminster court's verdict is "not final" and that it still needs to be confirmed by the House of Lords (High Court) in London.

The man responsible for the biggest financial fraud ever witnessed by Algeria has 14 days during which to appeal. His solicitor has already set the wheels in motion.

The Algerian public also reacted to the ruling.

Ines had just been hired by Khalifa Airways to work as a flight attendant on the Frankfurt-Algiers route when the scandal first erupted. She told Magharebia that her life was turned completely upside-down. "I feel so angry with those responsible," she said.

Forty-year-old Karim was an employee of Khalifa Bank. He was out of work for three years before finding a job as a financier with a public corporation: "This experience affected me a lot. I chose to go into the public sector because I thought I would have a more secure future there."

Abdelmoumen Khalifa founded Khalifa Bank, his financial empire, in 1998. The group, which also established Khalifa Airways, had 20,000 employees. In 2002, after detecting irregularities, authorities barred the bank from engaging in international trade. Khalifa Bank declared bankruptcy in 2003. In March 2007, a number of its managers were imprisoned by the Blida Court.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    Zizou 2014-1-2

    This Khalifa affair is more complicated than you think because the state itself is involved, and I sincerely think that opening this case and the Chakib Khalil case before it indeed has a political reason more than purely one of absolute justice.

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    ADEL 2013-12-28

    What a shame! He isn't the real suspect. He's just a door key. He's the frontman of the octopus of corruption, which is a group of statesmen, who launder the Algerians money under the pretext of this contemptible investment.

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    كمال 2011-3-24

    In 1994, Morocco closed the border to support the killing of Algerians. It has succeeded in its action. Today, after we eliminated terrorism, it wants and hopes to open the door in order to benefit from our resources. By God, if I had power, I would build on the border a wall bigger than the wall of Berlin and the wall of Jews and we wouldn’t even let air pass for them. However, it is in the hands of state officials and they understand 100% what I mean.

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    ali miknache 2009-10-29

    I hope that Khalifa burns in Hell. He killed my grandfather with a heart attack. We lost everything because of him, and we will find him when we are with God!

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    karim abed 2009-10-4

    Abdelmoumen Khalifa is not nice. Because of him, I am not with my family or in my country. I have been in Austria for seven years without documents.

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    ray 2009-8-23

    Thank you very much Khalifa. Algeria is not a country. Thank you: Moumen Khalifa.

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    aghilas 2009-7-6

    Azul fellawen- Khalifa is innocent in comparison to what is happening in Algeria, the country that gave him money. There are too many grey spots here. Perhaps Khalifa is a victim because he is not from a clan or because he began to go against the interest of certain people lurking in the shadows. Regarding extradition, I am against it. What guarantees and opportunities does Abdelmoumen have in a dictatorial country where everything is locked down and where the courts are presently in the service of a rotten king. England, a country of human rights, would take entire responsibility for protecting this man and would give him a fair trial in a democratic country. God knows how many scandals burst out every day only to be smothered, especially when it concerns their families. May God protect you... ar timlillith

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    Boudjelti 2009-7-4

    I wonder how much money did Algeria pay the English whether cash or in another form like awarding petrol and gaz projects to English companies, and why did the English accept the extradition only a couple of years later, after having sucked all the information from the source itself (khalifa). So the results are: English scored =2 Algeria= -2 English got the money and the INFOS they will use it later. Algeria paid money, and let infos leaking to foreigners. So what is the solution? very easy in fact, the governement must be more serious in his work, let the Algerians know and love each other, let the government organise free trips in buses between different regions, let the biskrians know bejaiens and tiziouzouistes know tebessiste let's help each other and god help us.Yarham limatoulak ya bouteflika I know probably your health is critical i really wish you a brain solid as iron but we need more applications, lot of improvements have taken place in infrastructural work i reckon, but we need a social life, and it's up to the government to settle it down,I really don't blame the citizens.If you want since im an engineer myself,i can help building school backyards, or scaffoldings..., so many ideas, but as i hear local constructors complaining about the lack of metal profiles I become reluctant to the idea.To summerize things Mr Bouteflika I would like to be able to cross the customs without being looked at twice just because somewhere in the passport is written Algeria, while the next passenger would need only a half look to go through, that has torn my heart so many times, I hope the actual football team will win the world cup and Vive L'algerie.

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