TIRANA, Albania (AP) — An Albanian court that handles top officials' corruption cases sentenced the country’s former chief prosecutor Thursday to two years in jail for hiding money from illegally owned properties.
The ex-prosecutor, Adriatik Llalla, 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.
He plans to appeal, according to his lawyer.
Judge Daniela Shirka of the Special Court Against Corruption and Organized Crime said 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.
Llalla resigned from the position of 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, Llalla was barred from entering the United States due to his suspected involvement in corruption. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday also sanctioned former Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha for alleged “significant corruption” and barred him and his wife and children from entering the country.
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Llazar Semini, The Associated Press