Home » Albania Court Rejects Ethnic Greek Mayor-Elect’s Appeal for Release
Albania Balkans Europe News Politics

Albania Court Rejects Ethnic Greek Mayor-Elect’s Appeal for Release

Athens has criticised the ruling of the Albanian Higher Court, which says ethnic Greek mayor-elect of Himara Fredi Beleri – who has been jailed on charges of vote-buying – must stay in prison.

Albania’s Higher Court has ruled that Himara Mayor and ethnic Greek Fredi Beleri, who is accused of vote-buying in the elections, must stay in prison.

The decision came after Beleri, who was arrested two days before the local elections on May 14, had asked for an lighter security measure.

His lawyer, Eugen Gjyzari, told BIRN that “in the appeal (request), we raised claims of the invalidity of the decision as well as over a decision supported by illegal, falsified evidence”.

He added: “According to the complainant, the measure of incarceration in prison is not proportional … and the needs of the investigation for a crime that is not so serious do not justify his staying in prison. We are awaiting the reasoning of the Higher Court also in relation to this claim for violation of constitutional rights in a disproportionate way.”

Beleri won the local elections in Himara but could not be sworn in as mayor because of the charges.

His lawyers had asked Albania’s Special Court Against Corruption and Organized Crime, SPAK, for special permission so that he could physically participate in the constitution of the Municipal Council of Himara at the end of June.

The Greek government has reacted several times about the case. Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetriti called the Albanian court decision “a negative development”.

“This is a negative development, which constitutes a clear violation of the fundamental principles of the rule of law, which Albania must respect and strictly adhere to if it wants to become a member of the European family,” Gerapetritis said.

Albania has maintained that the Beleri case is a matter of justice.

Beleri was arrested on May 12 for “active corruption in the elections” but still won the May 14 elections in the southern Albanian ethnic Greek stronghold against Socialist candidate Jorgo Goro, who was running for a fourth term.

According to the last census, Greeks form the largest minority in Albania, making up 0.9 per cent of the total population and concentrated in the south of the country, close to the Greek border.

Source : BalkanInsight