A former Albanian environment minister, seven other officials and four businessmen were sentenced to prison terms on Monday in connection with a bribe for a contract to build a crematorium in western Albania, judicial officials said.
The Special Court for Corruption and Organized Crime in the Albanian capital, Tirana, sentenced former environment minister Leiter Koka to six years and eight months in prison on charges of corruption, abuse of power and money laundering. He was also banned from holding public office for five years.
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Koka, 59, who was environment minister from 2013 to 2017, also served as an MP and before that as mayor of the western port of Durrës, was accused of taking 3.7 million euros (then $4.1 million) in bribes ) for the contract incinerator in the western city of Fier.
Coke will appeal the verdict.
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The court also sentenced seven other officials and four businessmen to prison terms of two to eight years on similar charges.
All defendants played a role in Fier’s incinerator concession. Criminal cases in the tiny Western Balkan country have also been launched over two other recently built incinerators, which have allegedly turned into a corrupt source of income.
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Corruption has long plagued Albania’s transition to democracy. A judicial reform, passed in 2016 with the support of the United States and the European Union, created new institutions to deal with corruption, including the court that handed down Monday’s verdict.