Europe 1 with AFP 18:36 p.m., December 30, 2023

Former Albanian President and Prime Minister Sali Berisha was placed under house arrest at his home on Saturday for refusing to appear in court as part of a corruption investigation, the Albanian judiciary said.

The placement of former Albanian president and prime minister Sali Berisha was confirmed to AFP by Berisha's party's legal adviser, Ivi Kaso. The Special Court against Corruption and Organised Crime indicted 79-year-old Sali Berisha in October on suspicion of "passive bribery of a high-ranking official".

The investigation is linked to the alleged favouritism that his son-in-law allegedly enjoyed during the privatisation of a sports complex that belonged to the state, when Sali Berisha was the head of government, in 2008. He now leads the opposition Democratic Party.

A ban on communicating with anyone

His lawyer, Genc Gjokutaj, said the court had forbidden the former head of government to communicate with anyone other than "family members who live with him". He said he intended to appeal the court's decision. On Thursday, parliament lifted Berisha's immunity, paving the way for a possible arrest in connection with the investigation.

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Sali Berisha's son-in-law, Jamarber Malltezi, was arrested in October and placed under house arrest on charges of alleged corruption and money laundering. He is suspected of having taken advantage of his father-in-law's position to acquire a sports complex in Tirana that belonged to the Ministry of Defence and was converted into apartments.

Berisha rejected the accusations as "purely political" and accused the current head of government, Edi Rama, of being behind the prosecution. Sali Berisha was first the first democratically elected Albanian president after the fall of communism in the 90s. He then led the government from 2005 to 2013. Last year, he was banned from entering the United States and Britain because of his alleged involvement in organized crime and corruption, charges he has denied.