March 5, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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Smoke bombs in the Albanian Parliament: “Purely political witch hunt” |  outside

Smoke bombs in the Albanian Parliament: “Purely political witch hunt” | outside

A state of chaos broke out in the Albanian Parliament today, after the decision to lift the legal immunity of former President Salih Berisha (79 years old) on charges of corruption. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 75 to 65. Berisha supporters lit colorful torches in protest.

look. Albanian deputies set off smoke bombs

Sali Berisha, 79, who dominated Albanian politics in the early 1990s as head of state and again as conservative prime minister between 2005 and 2013, is likely to be arrested. If convicted, he will also be sentenced to four to 12 years in prison.

Berisha denies corruption

“I am stronger than ever,” Berisha said as he left the room surrounded by bodyguards. He has long denied that he did anything wrong and described the investigation as a “purely political” campaign initiated by his arch rival, current Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama.

He said, “This decision will not achieve the goal and destroy the opposition, but rather will mobilize it under the slogan: now or never,” while representatives from his opposition Democratic Party stacked chairs and lit smoke bombs in the hall.

Berisha’s supporters lit colorful torches to protest the withdrawal of his legal immunity © Agence France-Presse

Outside, several hundred Berisha supporters protested as police surrounded the parliament building and officers equipped with water cannons stood by.

“Passive corruption”

The former politician and his son-in-law Jamarber Maltese were indicted in October on “passive corruption” charges dating back to 2008, when Berisha’s government introduced a law allowing the privatization of sports facilities expropriated under communism.

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The Special Prosecutor for Corruption and Organized Crime alleges that changes in the law benefited business ventures in which Berisha and Maltese had financial interests and that the two received bribes worth €5.4 million.

Maltese is said to have used the law to convert a sports complex in Tirana owned by the Ministry of Defense into apartments. He was arrested after charges were brought against him. Berisha was not allowed to leave the country.

The prosecution demanded a vote on lifting the former leader’s immunity after he refused to cooperate with the authorities during the investigation and ignored his requirement to report to the police twice a month.

Entry ban into the US and UK

Last year, Berisha was also banned from entering the United States and the United Kingdom due to his alleged involvement in organized crime and corruption.

The United States accuses Berisha of “embezzling public funds and interfering in public operations” and says that as prime minister he “used his power for his own gain” and “enriched” his family members and allies. He denies these accusations.

Albania is regularly viewed as one of the most corrupt countries in Europe.