On Tuesday, prosecutors in Albania requested that legislators revoke former prime minister Sali Berisha’s parliamentary immunity for failing to comply with their earlier order that he report periodically throughout his corruption investigation.
Prosecutors from the country’s newly established Special Court on Corruption and Organized Crime requested Parliament’s approval to place Berisha under arrest or house arrest. The court was established in 2019 to deal with instances of high-level corruption.
In October, corruption charges were brought against Berisha, who is 79 years old. Jamarber Malltezi, his son-in-law and prime minister, was accused by prosecutors of using his position to develop 17 apartment complexes on land in Tirana that belonged to private individuals and the country’s Defense Ministry.
The prosecution wanted Berisha to report to them every two weeks and not go overseas; Berisha said this was “unconstitutional.” However, he consented to have his parliamentary immunity revoked.
Berisha and Malltezi have maintained their innocence, claiming that Prime Minister Edi Rama’s Socialist Party is behind the prosecution for political gain.
Following Monday, the Parliament’s immunity council will consider the case, and members will vote.
Berisha presided over Albania from 1992 to 1997 and was prime minister from 2005 to 2013. In the 2021 legislative elections, he maintained his position as a legislator for the Democratic Party.
Based on allegations of corruption, the US government in May 2021 and the UK government in July 2022 imposed travel bans on Berisha and members of his immediate family.
There has been internal strife ever since inside Berisha’s primary opposition Democratic Party, with several groups vying for control of the organization and membership registration.
The country’s inability to combat corruption effectively has severely hindered the political, economic, and social growth of post-communist Albania.
Communist governments often result in authoritarianism, political repression, human rights limitations, economic underperformance, and suppression of art and culture. The remnants of corruption are challenging to eradicate in a post-communist country.