The head of the Socialist parliamentary group, Taulant Balla, denied the allegations made by the Democratic Party against him, regarding his friendship with convicted drug trafficker Edmond Bego, and the preferential treatment he received as a result in public tenders.
A few days ago, Democrat MP Ervin Salianji published data from the TIMS customs system that show how Balla has traveled 57 times alongside Edmond Bego, at times by car, at times by plane, 18 of which by a charter plane.
Appearing on the tv show “Opinion”, Taulant Balla denied having any close friendship with Bego and having traveled often with him. However, he admitted to knowing him, and travelling with him at least once:
I have said I know him. Today, for the first time, I will recount why I know him. The person in question was introduced to me by some of the highest leaders of the Muslim community. In the beginning of 2015, when I first met him, the person in question, as an entrepreneur, donated to one of the mosques within my electoral area, for which I thank both him and the community.
I thanked him for his donation to the mosque, and, of course, since that moment I did know him because both you and me have had coffee at this person’s cafe.
Yes, I did travel [with Edmond Bego]. Alongside two of your journalist colleagues, and a large group of Albanians, we went to see the Albanian soccer team play in Denmark.
Though initially admitting to only travelling with Bego once, after Blendi Fevziu’s insistence, Balla then conceded that they had traveled together several times, but he couldn’t remember the exact number.
Balla also claimed that he was not aware of Bego’s conviction by an Italian court for international drug trafficking.