TIRANA, Albania (AP) — An Albanian appeals court Wednesday sentenced the country’s former chief prosecutor to two years in prison and confiscated his property Wednesday for hiding the money involved in illegally owned properties.
The Tirana Appeals Court upheld another court's verdict against Adriatik Llalla, who served as Albania's prosecutor general during 2012-2017. A court that handles top officials’ corruption cases sentenced him in May for hiding property and giving false information on the asset declarations officials must submit every year.
“Adriatik Llalla has committed the penal crime and should be held accountable penally,” Appeals Court Judge Nertina Kosova said in rejecting his request to have the sentence overturned.
Llalla, who also is barred from holding any public post for five years, was not present in court for the decision. He would normally be required to start serving his sentence immediately, but his lawyer said Llalla's exact whereabouts are unknown.
Lawyer Sokol Hazizaj said he knew that Llalla was hospitalized but could not specify whether that was in Albania or abroad.
Llalla has not been able to account for the money behind his buying and selling some 5.4 acres of land and the purchase of an apartment. He also failed to justify his family’s expenses in the United States and Germany.
Fighting corruption has been post-communist Albania’s Achilles' heel, strongly affecting the country’s democratic, economic and social development.
Llalla was 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 acquiring 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.
In 2018, Llalla was barred from entering the United States due to his suspected involvement in corruption. In May, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken 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