Albania’s ex-top prosecutor sentenced over corruption

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — An Albanian Appeals Court on Wednesday sentenced the country’s former chief prosecutor to two years in prison for hiding money from illegally-owned properties.

The ex-prosecutor general, Adriatik Llalla, 52, was sentenced for hiding property and giving false information on the asset declarations Albanian officials must submit every year. The sentence also bars Llalla from holding any public post for five years.

Llalla has left the country and was represented by his lawyer who had asked to suspend the sentence claiming health issues. The request was turned down. Authorities have issued an international arrest warrant for Llalla.

Llalla could not account for the money behind his buying and selling some 5.4 acres of land and his purchase of an apartment. He also failed to justify his family’s expenses in the United States and Germany.

His lawyer Sokol Hazizaj said the verdict was unfair and said Llalla was under hospital treatment, but did not give details.

Llalla resigned from his role as Albania’s most senior prosecutor in December 2017.

In 2018, prosecutors sequestered Llalla’s apartment in the capital, Tirana, and just over two hectares (5.4 acres) of land belonging to him. The properties had a total value of more than 98 million leks (some $900,000) at the time, according to prosecutors.

Fighting corruption has been post-communist Albania’s Achille’s heel, strongly affecting the country’s democratic, economic and social development.

Llalla is the first high-ranking person to be sentenced by newly formed judicial institutions that were established to address corruption. Many judges and prosecutors have been dismissed for alleged corruption and illegally earning property and money.

The judicial reform, which was approved in 2016 with the involvement of the United States and the European Union, introduced a vetting process for judges and prosecutors to prove their properties were legally acquired and that they met anti-corruption and professional standards. Hundreds failed the vetting and were fired.

In 2018 the United States barred Llalla from entering because of alleged corruption.

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Follow Llazar Semini at https://twitter.com/lsemini

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