TIRANA: Albania’s former prime minister and the leader of the opposition Sali Berisha was placed under house arrest after he refused to appear before the judiciary police in connection with a corruption probe.
The Special Court Against Corruption and Organised Crime indicted Berisha, 79, in October, suspecting him of “passive corruption of a senior official”.
The investigation is linked to alleged favouritism of his son-in-law in the privatisation of a state-owned sports complex while Berisha was prime minister in 2008. Berisha now heads the opposition Democratic Party.
His lawyer, Genc Gjokutaj said the court also barred Berisha from communicating with people “other than the family that lives with him”.
He said they would appeal the court’s decision, which they say was “serious violation of law and human rights”.
Lawmakers on Thursday revoked Berisha’s legal immunity, paving the way for his possible arrest in connection with the investigation.
Berisha’s son-in-law Jamarber Malltezi was arrested in October and placed under house arrest for suspected corruption and money laundering.
Malltezi is suspected of taking advantage of Berisha’s position to acquire a sports complex in Tirana that was owned by the defence ministry, which was turned into apartments.
The former prime minister rejected the accusations, labelling them “purely political”, and accused leftist Prime Minister Edi Rama of instigating the probe.
Berisha was the first democratically elected president of Albania after the fall of communism in the 1990s. He was the head of government from 2005 to 2013.
Last year, he was banned from entering both the US and the UK over his alleged involvement in organised crime and corruption, accusations he rejected.
Washington accused Berisha of “misappropriating public funds and interfering with public processes” to the financial benefit of his family and allies.