Albanian Prosecution Seeks Jail Term for Mayor-Elect of Himara

Albanian Prosecution Seeks Jail Term for Mayor-Elect of Himara

Albania's Special Prosecution Against Corruption and Organised Crime asked for a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for the ethnic Greek mayor-elect of Himara, Fredi Beleri, who is on trial for alleged vote-buying.

The prosecution asked the Court Against Corruption and Organised Crime in Tirana on Tuesday to jail Fredi Beleri for two-and-a-half years in a case that has caused turmoil in Greek-Albanian relations.


Albanian Court Hears False Document Was Used to Jail Beleri

A court on Thursday heard that the ruling that remanded in custody the Greek minority mayor-elect of Himara – and prevented him from taking his oath of office – was based on an inaccurate certificate....

Ethnic Greek politician Beleri (Beleris in Greek) was arrested two days before local elections in May 2023 on charges of vote-buying. He is accused of attempting to buy four votes in exchange for cash.

Beleri is the mayor-elect of the town of Himara after winning the local polls. But since his arrest, he has been held in custody and has been prevented from assuming his mayoral duties.

As a result, the candidate he defeated, from Prime Minister Edi Rama's ruling Socialist Party, is doing the job instead.

Beleri's lawyer Eugen Gjyzari told BIRN that the charge was "political", fuelled by "media and economic clans".

"No facts or proof were [presented] in the process," Gjyzari said.

On January 29, Albania's Court of Appeals Against Corruption and Organised Crime dismissed a request from Beleri to take the oath of office as mayor of Himara.

The case is also being reviewed at the Constitutional Court of Albania, but no date has been set for a ruling.

The case has angered Greece. At the end of November, Athens threatened to block Albania's EU accession talks if it does not respect the rights of the jailed ethnic Greek mayor-elect.

Beleri's defence claims the police framed him using an undercover agent to provoke him – a method they have not used in any other case of alleged vote-buying, a phenomenon that is perceived as widespread in Albania.

The Court Against Corruption and Organised Crime on Tuesday gave the defence two weeks to prepare its closing statements.

The next hearing is due to take place on February 28, and could be the last before the verdict in the trial.

Balkan Insight

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