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Albanian ex-PM acquitted of corruption charges

January 16, 2012
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TIRANA, Albania—Albania's Supreme Court on Monday acquitted a former prime minister of corruption charges regarding a state hydropower station tender.

The court ruled that charges against Ilir Meta could not be proven, spokeswoman Ida Vodica said.

Meta, prime minister from 1999 to 2002, heads the small Socialist Movement for Integration Party that is part of Albania's governing coalition.

His lawyer said the verdict means that "the comedy is over."

"The law decided, and when the court speaks all should shut up and obey," Spartak Braho said

Prosecutors had asked for a two-year prison term for Meta, alleging that he tried to improperly influence former Economy Minister Dritan Prifti over the tender.

Prifti had released a video that he said documented the March 2010 incident, but Meta, who was deputy prime minister and foreign minister at the time, denied any wrongdoing and said the video was fabricated.

Meta resigned over the allegations last year, sparking a political crisis which culminated in an anti-government protest that left four people dead.

Albania, one of Europe's poorest countries, is seeking to join the European Union, but the 27-nation bloc has said the Balkan country has not yet done enough to root out corruption.

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