Fredi Beleri appears before Albania’s special appeals court: "I am still jailed with a forged criminal record"

Fredi Beleri

Remanded ethnic Greek mayor-elect of Himara (Χιμάρα, Albanian: Himarë), Fredi Beleri, on Friday, appeared before the judges of Albania’s Special Appeals Court for Corruption and Organised Crime in a session in Tirana.

The trial "is set up in bad taste, and they want me tried without me knowing the reason", noted Fredi Beleri in a statement.

"I am still jailed with a forged criminal record," he added, "while the prosecutor's office continues altering, forging the case file data."

Beleri also requested to be given information on the individuals who, as he alleges, are altering data in his attempt to facilitate a more effective defence, it was added.

Earlier in the court session, Beleri's defence request to have two of the three judges presiding be changed was rejected. Five defence witnesses also testified in Friday's proceedings, among them a journalist who had interviewed a main prosecution witness.

Beleri's defence then requested that the secretaries of the court and the prosecution office of Avlona (Αυλώνα, Albanian: Vlorë) be called in as witnesses, on which the court withdrew to decide.

The date for a new court session will be reportedly announced along with a decision on this matter.

However, on Thursday, the court of first instance (in the same court complex) rejected Beleris' request to modify the security measures against him. In its decision, the court cited the argument that everything has stayed the same in the case since the court decision was taken for his pre-trial detention.

Beleri has been held without charges on suspicion of ballot fraud since May, while several appeals to be released have been rejected by Albanian courts.

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