Judges Withdraw from Case of Albanian Mayor Amid Electoral Corruption Controversy

Fredi Beleri Greek Bar Associations

Two judges in Durrës have withdrawn from presiding over the case of Fredi Beleri, who was arrested on charges of electoral corruption shortly before his election as the mayor of Himare on the southwestern coast of Albania.

Beleri denies these accusations, and the case has attracted significant public and diplomatic attention, particularly due to the Greek community residing in Himare, which has implications for relations between Albania and Greece.

On September 22, Beleri's request to be sworn in as the mayor of Himara was referred to the Durrës court for "incompetence" by the Special Court for Corruption and Organized Crime. Currently detained in Durrës, Beleri awaits trial. Following the acceptance of competence for reviewing the case, judges Rexhep Bekteshi and Besjana Garxenaj successively declined to preside over it, requesting the president of the Court of the First Instance of the Durrës General Jurisdiction to appoint replacements.

Both judges cited valid reasons for their decision not to handle this sensitive issue, particularly due to the involvement of the Greek minority. The court's president, Paulin Çera, accepted this argument and ordered the replacement of Judge Bekteshi. Additionally, Judge Besjana Garxenaj requested not to participate in the hearing, explaining that she is from Gjirokastra in the south of Albania, and her family had a relationship with a victim of an alleged ethnic conflict in that region.

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