Three months after the end of the May 14 local elections in Albania, the elected mayor of Himara, Fredi Beleri, could not take the oath.
He is in prison on the charge of “active corruption in elections” and is awaiting trial by the Special Court of First Instance for Corruption and Organized Crime.
Mr. Beleri denied the accusations and considered the investigation against him a political attack.
The Albanian law on local self-government provides that the mayor’s mandate is terminated when he does not appear in office for more than 3 months without interruption, and today, August 14, marks the end of this term.
The Greek minority organization “Omonia” called this evening a protest in Himara where supporters of Mr. Beleri, political representatives of the Coalition “We win together” and the mayors of the two largest Greek cities, Athens and Thessaloniki and the neighboring municipalities of Gumenicva participated. and Corfu.
The speakers at the rally, among whom Ivi Kaso, the Secretary of Electoral Affairs in the Democratic Party, Vangjel Dule, the deputy of the Human Rights Party, Ylli Manjani, the former Minister of Justice, demanded the immediate release, the taking of the oath and the assumption of office by Fred Beller.
Two mayors of the largest municipalities in Greece, Kostas Bakoyanis of Athens and the mayor of Thessaloniki, Konstantinos Zervas, expressed their support for the elected mayor of Himara.
“The detention is illegal, it is a violation of the right and the presumption of innocence”, said the mayor of Athens, Bakojanis. According to him, Beleri “has the right to take the oath and take the office for which the citizens voted”.
“We want to welcome Albania to the European family, we want everyone to live together in our European home, but this home wants strong foundations of democracy, the rule of law, political rights, these are our principles and they are non-negotiable”, he said. Bakojanis.
The arrest of the opposition candidate Fredi Beleri two days before the May 14 local elections in Himare has recently brought an irritation in Tirana’s relations with Athens, because he represents the Union Party for Human Rights, which protects the rights of the Greek minority in Albania.
Official Athens has insisted that, according to it, the obstruction of Mr. Beleri to be sworn in as the mayor of Himara will bring a serious deterioration in the relations between the two countries, as well as affect Albania’s integration into the European Union.
The Albanian government has expressed that the independence of the justice bodies should be respected and the evidence and the word of justice should be patiently waited for and no one should rush to political conclusions.
Fredi Beleri has been in custody since his detention under suspicion of vote-buying two days before the elections, while Pandeli Kokaveshi, the other person under accusation, has been placed under house arrest due to his health.
The municipality of Himara continues to be run since 2011 by Jorgo Goro, a representative of the Socialist Party, who in the last elections lost with a very small margin of votes to Mr. Beleri.