Albania's former health minister accused by prosecutors of corruption in government project

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania's former health minister, who is being investigated for alleged corruption, must report to police and not leave the country, prosecutors said Saturday.

Prosecutors with the country’s Special Court Against Corruption and Organized Crime said Ilir Beqaj should report to prosecutors every Friday and may not use his passport or identity card to leave the country. The special prosecution agency was created in 2019 to handle corruption and other crime cases involving senior officials.

Beqaj, 55, resigned his post as head of a government agency coordinating international assistance. He was the minister of health from 2013-2017 as part of the governing Socialist Party of Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Beqaj is accused of corruption and abuse of power in a tender on a government project to sterilize medical items. He has denied the accusations but said he would respect the prosecutors’ order. He also resigned from the government post.

Fighting corruption has been post-communist Albania’s Achilles’ heel, strongly affecting the country’s democratic, economic and social development. New judicial institutions have launched several investigations into former senior government officials allegedly involved in corruption. One former minister served a jail term.

Former prime minister and president Sali Berisha, now a lawmaker, is also accused of corruption, but he has defied prosecutors’ orders to report and not to leave the country, saying they should first ask the parliament.

Other former ministers and mayors have also been arrested or are under investigation on corruption charges.


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