The arresting Fredi Beleri is in itself a much more serious event than the crime he is being accused for. This is because of the sensitivity of the case since he is a representative of the Greek minority in Albania, even though he may not be its best representative. However, Albanians should not be the ones selecting who will or will not represent the Greek minority. That was something that was done by the Communist dictator Enver Hoxha, but cannot happen in a democratic society.
Albania not only accepts the Greek minority as a natural part of its society, but it also has the tendency to “positively discriminate” this community by giving them even more rights than they might need. One such positive discrimination is the fact that two municipalities which belong to the Greek minority have been left out of any quantitative criteria.
Fredi Beleri’s arrest only two days prior to the elections day sparks a dangerous debate in Albania regarding penal politics and not the crime for which he is being accused. I am convinced that Mr. Beleri is involved in vote-buying and I would believe this even if I had not seen the facts provided by the prosecution. Vote-buying is something in which PBDNJ party’s candidates have always been involved and often in the name of Greece, even if this might not have been true.
There was a time when PBDNJ party’s candidates would try to buy votes by promising travel visas to voters, politicians and even journalists. Because of this, many peripheral political figures from the Greek minority in Albania are corrupt in their political thinking as well as political actions in Albania. Often they have been responsible for corrupting the Albanian side too.
While object tolerating vote-buying, considering that Mr. Beleri was doing it for an entire week, the prosecution could have continued its investigation until after Sunday’s elections. Most likely, Mr. Beleri would have deepened his corruption and the justice system would have more facts and time to arrest him since he was not planning to leave the country after the elections.
If the prosecution would have waited until after the local elections, it would have saved the pre-electoral climate in Albania and would have avoided an unnecessary and artificial tension between Greece and Albania. While this is a case that both countries understand very clearly, it is difficult for them to accept it for what it really is, since both countries are ahead of elections and want to appear as “patriotic” to their voters.
Fredi Beleri’s arrest is a sign of independence for the Albanian prosecution, but this does not mean that the prosecution is free to blow up the stability of relations between Greece and Albania or the excellent relations between Albanians and the Greek minority in our country. In other words, justice does not imply only punishing those who might be guilty, but also to be cautious enough not to disrupt the society’s peace.
If Fredi Beleri was buying votes for an entire week, the prosecution could have waited to arrest him after the Election Day, especially when considering that he was involved in a three-days-long political polemic with the Albanian Prime Minsiter. Now it would be better for the prosecution to let him out, while continuing to gather facts against him and allow the court to give its ruling.
While the prosecution’s action might be according to the law, the institution has acted like an elephant in a crystal shop, doing more damage than justice. Furthermore, this does not benefit anyone except Mr. Beleri, who will now be treated as a hero, despite being involved in vote-buying.
Therefore, justice must now own up to what it has done and show that it has strong evidence to justify its action, considering the damage that it has done to public peace and the relations between Albania and Greece. They must be convincing with their evidence and the court’s ruling, or become themselves judged for provoking an unnecessary debate, turning thieves into false nationalist heroes.