From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Opposition Accuses Fourth Socialist Mayor of Concealing Criminal Past

The Democratic Party (PD) of Albania has accused the Socialist Party (PS) Mayor of Mallakastra Qerim Ismailaj of hiding a criminal past in Greece.

The fourth PS Mayor to have allegations of this kind against them, Ismailaj is suspected of being either arrested or detained in Greece, then being deported in the period of 1999-2000. The PD state that Ismailaj lied on his decriminalisation form, itself a criminal offence, by omitting this information.

Mayoral candidates are required to state if they have ever been arrested, detained, or convicted of a criminal offence by foreign judicial authorities.

The PD has asked the prosecutors office to verify Ismailaj’s past. In a request sent by Secretary-General Gazment Bardhi, he stressed that the prosecutor must quickly verify and respond with the aim of removing persons with criminal backgrounds from high public office.

In August, the Mayor-elect of Shkodra, Valdrin Pjetri resigned after the Opposition published an Italian conviction for drug dealing. At the beginning of January, the prosecutor’s office launched criminal proceedings against him for falsifying information on his decriminalisation form

In September, the PD asked prosecutors to investigate Mayor of Vau i Dejes, Mark Babani for lying on his decriminalisation form. They stated they had reason to believe that Babani had hidden arrests and convictions as well as three alternate identities. They published documents that allegedly showed that he had been arrested and convicted in Italy for stealing cars under the name of Saimir Marq Babaj in 1994.

Then in November, following claims made by the Opposition, the Central Election Commission dismissed Mayor of Vora Agim Kajmaku after prosecutors confirmed he omitted his criminal past on his decriminalisation form. Following an arrest warrant, Kajmaku is apparently “on the run” and the authorities are unable to locate him.