The maverick Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti, who was involved in activities in hydropower, waste, television and football in Albania, was sentenced to 17 years in prison in absentia by the Court of Tirana on Wednesday.
Becchetti, 56, has been on the run from the Albanian authorities since 2014 when he was accused of money laundering in relation to a failed hydroelectric scheme.
Becchetti claims he is being prosecuted for political reasons by the government of Edi Rama, because his now defunct TV channel, Agon, was critical of him.
Becchetti lives currently in the UK, where in 2016 courts blocked the extradition request of the Albanian authorities. The court heard that PM Rama had “taken a dislike” to Becchetti because Agon, unlike other media organisations in Albania, was critical of the government.
While on the run, he has used different international courts to claim hundreds of millions of euros in compensation from Albania for his lost businesses.
One court found Albania guilty and ordered it to pay him more than 100 million euros in compensation.
The circumstances of that ruling are unknown, however, since the court settling that matter works under auspices of trade secrecy.
It is also announced that the mother and wife of Becchetti were sentenced to 8 years in jail under the charge of money laundering.
Rama government has been criticized by its opponents of losing huge amounts of money of taxpayers in trials held in international courts. Like Bechetti many citizens have won their judicial cases versus Rama who has promised many times to appeal the verdicts but nothing is said about this aspect. In any case the losers are Albanian citizens. / Argumentum.al