Continuing detention of ethnic Greek mayor contravenes European perception of the rule of law

Fredi Beleri Varvitsiotis

The Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry commented on the extension of the detention of Fredi Beleri, the elected ethnic Greek mayor of Himare, in an announcement issued on Monday.

"The extension of the detention of Freddy Beleri, now the elected mayor of Himare, offends the public's sense of justice and the European perception of the rule of law," the Greek ministry emphasized.

Court extends detention

The newly elected mayor of Himare, Fredi Beleri and his associate Panteli Kokaveshi, both ethnic Greeks, will not be released from detention pending trial Albania's Special Court for Corruption and Organized Crime in Tirana.

Their lawyers represented The two men, who requested their release on health grounds. Kokaveshi is in the University Hospital of Tirana with serious health issues, and Beleri submitted medical tests to the court that were not considered. He is held in jail in Tirana.

If higher courts do not overturn the decision, the two men will remain in detention until the completion of the investigation and trial by the same court above.

Meanwhile, Albanian Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Olta Xhacka referred on Twitter to her meeting with Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias in Brussels the same day. 

In a series of tweets, she said, "I made it clear that this is a judicial matter that should not affect the new page we have opened in our bilateral relation. This is neither an HR issue nor a political one, let alone a bilateral issue. Mr Beleri enjoys the same rights as any other Albanian citizen & as every Albanian citizen, he is not above the law. Vote-buying is a grave offence in our legislation & his case is now in court to be judged. The only thing we can do is patiently wait for the process to run its course and not prejudge or second guess the proceeding."

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