Albanian Parliament Votes to Strip Former Prime Minister of Immunity Amidst Corruption Allegations

The Albanian Parliament has voted to strip former Prime Minister Sali Berisha of his legal immunity, paving the way for potential prosecution in a corruption case that has sent shockwaves through the nation. The 79-year-old leader of the center-right Democratic Party stands accused of abusing his position to facilitate his son-in-law, Jamarber Malltezi, in acquiring land in the capital city of Tirana.

Berisha, a prominent figure in Albanian politics, vehemently denies the allegations, labeling them as a politically motivated attack orchestrated by incumbent Prime Minister Edi Rama’s Socialist Party. However, the parliament’s decision to lift his immunity has now cleared the path for prosecutors to seek permission from the court to place Berisha under arrest or house arrest.

The vote, which took place amidst a tense atmosphere, saw opposition lawmakers boycotting the session and attempting to disrupt proceedings by collecting chairs and igniting flares. However, their efforts were thwarted by security guards. Berisha himself chose not to address the motion, further fueling speculation and intrigue surrounding the case.

With the opposition refusing to participate, there were no votes against the move or any abstentions, solidifying the decision to strip Berisha of his immunity. The ruling Socialist Party, holding a majority in the parliament, granted the request from prosecutors, signaling a significant blow to Berisha’s political career.

The corruption allegations against Berisha stem from his alleged involvement in helping Malltezi purchase land in Tirana, which belonged to both private citizens and the defense ministry. It is claimed that 17 apartment buildings were subsequently constructed on the property. Both Berisha and Malltezi maintain their innocence, asserting that the case is a calculated move by the ruling Socialist Party to discredit them.

Democratic Party supporters gathered outside the parliament building, brandishing anti-government banners and chanting slogans such as “Down with dictatorship.” Berisha, addressing the crowd, called for a united front against what he described as an “authoritarian regime” led by the Socialists. He vowed that the decision to strip his immunity would not destroy the opposition but instead mobilize it in a battle against the ruling party.

Berisha’s political career spans several decades, having served as Albania’s prime minister from 2005 to 2013 and as president from 1992 to 1997. Despite the recent allegations, he was re-elected as a lawmaker for the Democratic Party in the 2021 parliamentary elections. However, his reputation has suffered a blow, with the United States and the United Kingdom barring him and his close family members from entering their countries due to alleged involvement in corruption.

The ongoing disruptions caused by opposition lawmakers in parliament have hindered much-needed reforms, particularly as Albania seeks to align its laws with those of the European Union. The EU has recently agreed to initiate the process of harmonization, a crucial step towards the country’s full membership in the bloc.

As the case against Berisha unfolds, Albania finds itself at a crossroads, grappling with allegations of corruption at the highest levels of government. The outcome of this high-stakes battle between political rivals will undoubtedly shape the nation’s future and determine its path toward progress and transparency.

 

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

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