Albania’s Special Appeals Court rules to keep Fredi Beleri in prison


Elected Mayor of Himara Municipality, Fredi Beleri. Photo from archive.

Sept 18, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas


The Special Appeals Court for Corruption and Organized Crime has ruled to keep Fredi Beleri, the elected mayor of Himara, in prison. Beleri was arrested two days before the May 14 elections on charges of vote-buying.

During this Monday’s court session, Beleri requested a change in his detention status from “arrest with imprisonment”, but the court decided to maintain his imprisonment.

Notably, Greek Ambassador Konstantina Kamitsi and Vangjel Dule, the head of the Unity for Human Rights Party, were present at the Special Appeals Court.

On September 14, the Special Court against Organized Crime and Corruption decided to proceed with Beleri’s case, who had been arrested on charges of actively participating in election corruption.

During the preliminary hearing, the prosecutors argued that the available evidence and facts, including audio recordings, supported the charges against Beleri.

Edmond Dema, Beleri’s defense attorney, requested the case be dismissed, alleging that the evidence was unlawful. However, the court deemed the Prosecutor’s investigation to be complete, clearing the way for the judicial process to commence.

Following the hearing, attorney Dema expressed his bewilderment at Beleri’s continued detention, especially now that the investigations have concluded. He stated that no request had been made for an expedited trial.

“It will be a protracted process as we intend to call upon numerous witnesses,” he remarked.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis rekindled discussions regarding the case of Fredi Beleri.

While addressing reporters in Thessaloniki as part of an international business fair during the weekend, Mitsotakis stated that “bilateral relations with Albania have been overshadowed by Fredi Beleri’s imprisonment”.

He emphasized that Albania’s stance “undermines the significant progress achieved over the past four years in bilateral relations”.

Mitsotakis asserted that the elected mayor of Himara should be allowed to take the oath of office, even if administered within the confines of a prison.

“I am not intervening in Albanian judicial proceedings; it would be exceedingly difficult and inappropriate for me to do so. However, preventing Fredi Beleri from being sworn in as mayor constitutes, in our view, a clear breach of the rule of law standards,” Mitsotakis declared.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has consistently asserted in recent statements that the matter concerning Himara’s elected mayor falls under the jurisdiction of Albanian judicial authorities, and he cannot accept any external interference.

“No form of interference in the justice system, regardless of its source, will find not only our support but will also lack our comprehension. We do not meddle in the affairs of the justice system. We refrain from commenting on the decisions made by the new judiciary,” Rama affirmed.

Fredi Beleri was apprehended just two days before the local elections on May 14. According to the prosecution, wiretapped conversations suggest that he had offered money in exchange for votes in his favor.

Beleri has vehemently denied these charges, portraying them as politically motivated. His appeals to alter his detention status have been consistently denied across all judicial tiers.