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Albanian Special Court Greenlights Trial for Beleri

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Albania’s Special Court Against Corruption and Organised Crime has accepted the request of the Special Prosecution Against Corruption and Organised Crime, SPAK, for the case of Fredi Beleri to be sent to trial.

Beleri’s lawyer, Edmond Dema, told the media that they had asked the court to invalidate the prosecution’s request, but their own request was not accepted.

He repeated that it was unnecessary to keep Beleri in prison. “We will send [SPAK] 50 to 60 witnesses and other evidence…. It [the trial] will last. Since it will last, there is no reason for him to be in prison,” he told the media.

The next court session will be held on next Monday.

Beleri, the ethnic Greek mayor-elect of the southern Albanian town of Himara, was arrested on 12 May, only a few days before the local elections, on charges of vote-buying. He has been held in custody since then. He is charged by SPAK with “active corruption in elections”.

Despite winning the local elections in Himara, Beleri could not be sworn in as mayor because of the charges. His lawyers had asked the Special Court Against Corruption and Organised Crime to permit him to physically participate in the constitution of the Municipal Council of Himara at the end of June.

The Greek government has criticised the case several times. Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetriti called the latest Albanian court decision “a negative development”. Albania has maintained that the Beleri case is a matter for the country’s justice system.

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