Albania seizes top prosecutor upon corruption, money laundering

Adriatik Llalla, former chief prosecutor  | Youtube snapshot

Albanian authorities held assets of a former chief prosecutor who is being queried for corruption and money laundering, according to the statements of an official.

The former chief, Adriatik Llalla, who was once one of Albania's most powerful and feared men, was accused in April of refusing to declare his assets, money laundering and other financial crimes.

This comes at a time Tirana proceeded with a shaky effort to clean-up its graft-riddled judiciary. It is a task that Brussels has made a topmost priority for Albania to start accession talks with the European Union. Under EU pressure, Albania has ordered some 800 judges and prosecutors to declare their assets in effort to root out corruption.

The Business Insider quoted Denion Ndrenika, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office as saying that the court seized "moveable and real estate assets" worth 98.7 million leks ($915,000)."

According to the news, the property includes an apartment in the northwestern seaside city of Durres and more than two hectares (4.9 acres) of land, Ndrenika said. Llalla left his post in November 2017 after his term ended.

The US State Department on Wednesday announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had "designated" Adriatik Llalla, 49, and his family as corrupt foreign officials, thereby banning Llalla from entering the country.

Llalla was General Prosecutor in Albania from 2012 to 2017 and last year the US Ambassador to Tirana, Donald Lu, accused him of being an "enemy of the Justice Reform" – the flagship reform program that Albania is allegedly implementing, aiming to clean up the notoriously corrupt justice system.

The source also pointed out that a report by the rights group Albanian Helsinki Committee said in June that some 200 judges and prosecutors examined "had links with the organized crime, corruption, under either direct or indirect form."

Some 20 senior judges have stepped down from their posts to avoid the review.

Local media have recently sounded fears that some judicial bodies will soon struggle to function soon due to insufficient number of judges.

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