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Former Albanian Environment Minister Jailed for Corruption


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Albania’s Special Court on Corruption and Organized Crime handed down a jail sentence of six years and eight months to former environment minister Lefter Koka and found guilty another dozen people, both officials and businessmen, in relation to the 28-million-euro concessionary agreement awarded by the government to a private company for the purpose of building and operating a waste incinerator in Fieri. The plant was never completed.

Klodian Zoto, the businessman who owned the concessionary company, was sentenced to eight years. He is currently on the run.

Koka is the highest ranking official to be sentenced for corruption in decades in Albania, where a sense of impunity cultivated for years led to a massive effort by the country’s Western partners for sweeping justice reforms.

During the trial, all defendants pleaded not guilty.

Along with charges over the Fieri concession, Koka has also been charged over a similar case in Elbasani, where a 21.6-million-euro concession was awarded earlier. A third investigation into a waste concession in Tirana is ongoing.

Former deputy prime minister Arben Ahmetaj has also been charged with illegally benefiting from the activities of Zoto and Mirel Mertiri, the two businessmen behind all three contracts. Ahmetaj is also on the run along with Zoto and Mertiri.

The three concessions have cost Albanian taxpayers at least 150 million euros, based on BIRN calculations of financial returns and treasury data.



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