Video Barred from Albanian Ex-Minister’s Trial

The Supreme Court on Monday disqualified as evidence a key video, which appeared to show former economy minister Dritan Prifti sharing a hefty bribe with his former deputy.Fatmir Braka, Prifit’s lawyer, said the judges had ruled the video inadmissible as proof on the defence’s request. “Because the video is inadmissible, the case should be dismissed,” Braka added.

In the video, which prosecutors found in his personal computer, the minister is seen dividing up €69,000 with his former aide, Beqiri.Both Prifti and Beqiri were indicted on corruption charges in March.

The video was recovered by an American IT expert hired by the prosecution during an investigation of former deputy prime minister Ilir Meta, also at the center of a video corruption scandal.

Prifti had secretly video-taped Meta discussing corrupt deals, but had also filmed himself with Beqiri.

Prifti and Meta were founders of the Socialist Movement for Integration, LSI a splinter group from the Socialist Party, which emerged as political kingmaker following the closely run 2009 parliamentary elections.

Although it won only four of 140 seats in parliament, as a reward for its support Berisha gave the LSI three key ministries, a deputy prime minister’s slot and a 20 per cent share of posts in the public sector.

The Supreme Court on January 16 dismissed the case against Meta, who was also indicted on corruption charges.

The verdict raised eyebrows in Tirana and in Brussels. EU officials have told Albania to take a tougher line on corruption if it wishes to join the EU.

Meta, Prifti and Beqiri have all denied wrongdoing.

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