Albanian Drugs Probe Exposes Alleged Vote-Buying

Albania's opposition leader Lulzim Basha said on Friday that he wants an in-depth investigation into alleged vote-buying by the ruling Socialists, claiming that the party secured its comfortable victory in the 2017 elections through collaboration with criminals.

After Albanian police concluded a large-scale operation against four interlinked groups of drug-trafficking suspects last week, Basha's opposition Democratic Party published intercepted conversations and snippets from the police investigation file, revealing two alleged cases of suspected criminals involved in vote-buying practices for the Socialist Party.

"Now it is clear to everybody that [Albanian Prime Minister] Edi Rama had a plan all over the country to steal the elections in the collaboration with criminals," Basha alleged in a message on Twitter.

"A special and independent investigation is urgently needed over this criminal operation," he added.

The opposition also claims that Albania's prosecution service has attempted to downplay the links between crime gangs and the Socialist Party and has not properly investigated the Socialist mayor of Durres, Vangjush Dako.

The first leaked snippet from the investigators file states that Gjevi Ndoka, brother of former Socialist MP Arben Ndoka, was covertly recorded buying votes for the party.

Both Arben and Gjevi Ndoka have been arrested and charged with falsifying documents and appropriating state-owned land, but not with vote-buying.

Both pleaded not guilty at the Serious Crime Court but were remanded in custody.

However, the biggest prize for the opposition came from an intercepted conversation between Durres mayor Dako and Altin Avdyli, a drug-dealing suspect, in which Dako says he wanted to meet Avdyli's...

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