The Court of Special Appeal has left the elected mayor of Himara, Fredi Beleri, in prison, arrested for buying and selling votes two days before the May 14 elections.
Beleri requested the change of the security measure “arrest with prison”, while the Greek ambassador, Kostandina Kamitsi, as well as the head of PBDNJ, Vangjel Dule, were also in the Special Court.
On September 14, the Special Court against Organized Crime and Corruption decided to take up for trial the case of Beler, who was arrested on the charge of active corruption in the elections.
In the preliminary session, the prosecutors of the case stated that the available evidence and facts, including audio-interceptions, support the charge brought by them. Edmond Dema, Mr. Beleri’s defense lawyer, asked for the dismissal of the case, claiming that the evidence is illegal. But the court is known to have considered the prosecution’s investigation complete, paving the way for the start of the judicial process.
Lawyer Dema said after the session that it is pointless for Beleri to continue to be kept in prison, especially now that the investigations have been closed. He stated that no summary judgment was requested. “It will be a long process, as we will call many witnesses”, he declared.
Beleri was arrested two days before the May 14 local elections. According to the prosecution, the wiretapping shows that he offered money in exchange for votes in his favor. Mr. Beleri rejected the accusations and spoke about an act with a political background. His occasional requests to change the security measure have been rejected by all levels of the judiciary, to which he has appealed again with the same request.
His arrest has significantly aggravated the relations between Tirana and Athens. The latter has requested his release, claiming that human and minority rights have been violated, as well as threatening to block Albania’s path in the process of joining the European Union. Greek officials are raising this issue in various international bodies.
The Albanian government has responded by declaring more than once that this is a matter of justice and by categorically rejecting any kind of intervention in the judicial system. Whereas Prime Minister Rama, no more than a day ago, said that no one can give Albania lectures on the treatment of minorities
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