Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Albania Video Corruption Scandal Heads to Court

Albania’s General Prosecutor has filed corruption charges against former Deputy Prime Minister Ilir Meta, after the broadcast of a video allegedly showing him discussing corrupt deals with another former minister.

Besar Likmeta
Ilir Meta | Photo by : Albania MFA

Meta is charged with active corruption and faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the video was a montage and his words were taken out of context.

However, prosecutors maintain that they have been able to verify the video as genuine through the help of an American and a British expert.

General Prosecutor Ina Rama filed the charges at Albania's Supreme Court on Monday.

The transcripts of the videotape, which was broadcast in January, show Meta asking the former Minister of Economy Dritan Prifti to intervene over a hydropower plant concession tender, naming an alleged recompense by a businessman of a seven per cent stake or a €700,000 bribe.

Meta also allegedly asks Prifti to hire activists of their party, the Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI. The LSI is the junior government partner in the government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha, and controls the ministries of economy, foreign affairs and health.

Although it only holds four parliamentary seats, the LSI came out as the kingmaker in the 2009 parliamentary elections, which were narrowly won by Berisha's right-wing Democratic Party.

Meta, who is the LSI head and at the time of the recording served as deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, also allegedly brags in the videotape about influencing a Supreme Court trial over the same hydro-power plant concession,.................................

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