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Past Misdeeds Cost Two Albanian MPs Their Jobs

The latest sanctions against politician-crooks may improve the country’s tarnished image – or blacken it even more.

8 January 2018

Two members of the Albanian parliament expelled for not disclosing past criminal records could also face prosecution.

 

The Central Election Commission removed Gledjon Rehovica and Aqif Rakipi from office Friday after receiving documents from the prosecutor general’s office indicating each was convicted in Italy in the 1990s.

 

Prosecutors said the men were convicted under different names. They deny the allegations, The Associated Press reports.

 

Describing Rakipi as “a powerful politician in the Elbasan region” for the small Justice, Unity and Integration Party, Balkan Insight says prosecutors confirmed his involvement in receiving stolen goods in Italy in 1998. Rehovica, who represents the opposition Socialist Movement of Integration, reportedly was convicted in Italy for shoplifting in 1999.

 

Both men deny the allegations.

 

A “decriminalization law” passed in 2015 bars those with serious criminal records from holding office, while officials guilty of lesser offenses can be expelled from office, Balkan Insight says.

 

A court for serious crimes indicted Rakipi and Rehovica last month, the Italian-Albanian site Exit reported.

 

Their subsequent expulsion from parliament made them the sixth and seventh politicians to lose their mandates or resign before being forced out in the two years since the law passed.

 

Most of them failed to disclose criminal records in Italy in violation of the law.

 

The election commission rejected prosecutorial requests to expel another five parliamentarians and mayors, Exit says.

 

The U.S. Embassy in Tirana said the latest expulsions were “evidence that the important process of decriminalization … is continuing in Albania,” the AP reports.

 

 

  • Judicial reform and cutting high-level corruption are seen as priorities if Albania is to progress toward eventual European Union membership.

 

  • The left of center government’s choice of an interim chief prosecutor last month led to protests by the centrist opposition, with Washington siding with the government in the dispute.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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