Albanian prosecutors have charged former Prime Minister Sali Berisha and his son-in-law on Sunday with corruption and money laundering charges over a land deal involving the grounds of a sports club.
According to the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Corruption and Organized Crime (SPAK), Berisha was accused of “corruption of senior officials” in connection with the privatization of a state-owned sports complex “for the benefit of his son-in-law”. He has also been told to report to the police and was banned from leaving the country.
In 2020, criminal proceedings against Berisha were launched when Taulant Balla, the current interior minister, accused Berisha of being complicit in the privatization of sports fields and other facilities owned by the Defense ministry in Tirana, the capital city of Albania, that were later replaced with multi-story buildings. The alleged crimes were reportedly perpetrated in 2008 while Berisha, the current leader of the opposition, was the Prime Minister. Jamarber Malltezi, his son-in-law, was detained on Saturday night on being accused with “corruption and money laundering”.
At a press conference, the 79-year-old former prime minister dismissed the claims against him and blamed Prime Minister Edi Rama, saying they were “purely and entirely political.” He asserted that both of them were innocent and that Malltezi had only been charged because he was his son-in-law.
After communism fell in the 1990s, Berisha was Albania’s first democratically elected president. Berisha presided over Albania as president from 1992 to 1997 and as prime minister from 2005 to 2013. In a parliamentary election held in April 2021, he won re-election as a member of parliament for the Democratic Party.