An Algerian court has sentenced two former prime ministers of the country to long jail terms amid a huge corruption investigation.

Ahmed Ouyahia was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Abdelmalek Sellal to 12 years, the BBC reports.

They were accused of abusing authority in a car manufacturing embezzlement scandal.

It was the first time since Algeria's independence from France in 1962 that ex-prime ministers were put on trial.

The two were allies of long-time President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned amid mass protests in April.

Ouyahia and Sellal were among 19 defendants tried on charges of money laundering, abuse of office, and granting undue privileges in the vehicle assembly industry.

One serving cabinet minister, Abdesalem Bouchoureb, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in absentia.

An international arrest warrant has been issued for him amid reports that he is abroad.

Defence lawyers boycotted the trial, alleging that the proceedings were "politicised" and aimed at "settling scores", AFP reports.

The convicted men however, have 10 days to appeal against the sentence.

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