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Plane believed to be carrying Algerian president leaves Geneva

AFP  |  Geneva 

An plane believed to be carrying took off Sunday from Switzerland, where the ailing leader has been undergoing medical treatment for two weeks.

The white Gulfstream 4SP jet, with "People's Democratic Republic of Algeria" written on the side and the Algerian flag on the tail, landed at the international airport Cointrin shortly before 10:00 am (0900 GMT).

It took off again around 4:00 pm (1500 GMT), shortly after a large convoy drew up from the hospital where the had been treated, according to AFP journalists at the airport.

The did not immediately announce the purpose of the flight but it was likely that the plane came to collect the 82-year-old leader, who has been receiving medical treatment at the of (HUG).

AFP journalists on the scene saw a large convoy arrive at the airport, but could not see who boarded the plane, which remained hidden in a hangar for the approximately six hours it was on the ground in

Numerous police officers had been stationed near the VIP wing on the eighth floor of the HUG earlier Sunday afternoon, as television crews waited outside hoping to catch a glimpse of Bouteflika's departure, according to another

Bouteflika, in power since 1999, has rarely been seen in public since suffering a in 2013.

His bid to secure a fifth term in Algeria's April 18 election has sparked massive protests in the country, dominated by youths who have called for the to stand aside.

Bouteflika's office has insisted that the president went to for routine medical checkups but speculation is rife that his health condition is far more serious.

On Friday, a acting on behalf of an unnamed Algerian citizen filed a petition with a requesting that Bouteflika be placed under a trusteeship for his own protection, alleging that his "fragile health" left him vulnerable to "exploitation" by those around him.

Pointing to reports that Bouteflika's condition was "very precarious" and "life-threatening", the petition submitted by also demanded that the court lift the medical secrecy around his condition and that it request a medical certificate pertaining to his aptitude to govern.

It remained unclear whether the would admit the case, and Ditisheim acknowledged the sensitivity of the issue and told AFP the court might try to stall until Bouteflika was flown back to

A number of protests have also been staged in against the Algerian president since he arrived in the country.

On Friday, Algerian Rachid Nekkaz, who had unsuccessfully tried to stand as a candidate in the upcoming elections, was arrested after staging a protest with several dozen supporters outside HUG and then pushing inside to demand information about Bouteflika's condition.

Nekkaz -- a popular activist with a following -- suggested that Bouteflika was actually dead.

"The entire world, and all of knows that he is no longer of this world," he told reporters, charging that powerful players in had an interest in maintaining the illusion that Bouteflika was alive to keep their grip on power in the country.

Bouteflika's meanwhile insisted Thursday that the president's health raised "no worries".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, March 10 2019. 21:40 IST