Albania's former PM Berisha loses appeal against ban from UK

Albanian parliament votes to lift opposition leader Berisha's immunity, in Tirana

(Reuters) -Albanian opposition leader Sali Berisha, the country's former president and prime minister, on Monday lost his appeal against a ban on entering Britain over alleged criminal links.

Berisha, head of Albania's main opposition Democratic Party, was excluded from the United Kingdom in 2022 for his alleged links to organised crime and corruption, which Berisha denies.

He appealed against the decision at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in London in March, arguing he was banned from the UK on the basis of unproven false assertions.

SIAC dismissed Berisha's challenge in a written ruling on Monday.

Berisha said in a statement: "There is no evidence or fact for any illegal action."

"I remain convinced that the path of justice that I will continue will serve the truth and will hit transnational corruption in a way that it deserves."

Britain's decision to bar Berisha from the country came a year after he was excluded from the United States over alleged corruption and abuse of power.

Berisha, 79, faces allegations in Albania that he used his influence while prime minister between 2005 and 2009 to favor his daughter's husband in the privatization of state land, which he and his daughter deny.

He was placed under house arrest in December and prosecutors have not filed any criminal charges.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; additional reporting by Fatos Bytyci in Pristina; editing by William James and Bernadette Baum)