The newly-elected mayor of an Albanian city has resigned from his post after allegations emerged that he had been convicted of drug smuggling in Italy 16 years ago.
The Albanian opposition Democratic Party, released what they say is an Italian police file on Valdrin Petri, who was appointed as the mayor Shkoder in northern Albania in June, that states that he was convicted of distribution, production and trafficking of narcotics” in Florence in 2003 when he was 20 years old.
“Aware of the importance of political image and determined to take the legal resolution of the charge from the position of ordinary citizen, so that I do not burden anyone, I decided to resign as mayor of Shkoder,” Petri said in a statement.
According to the document released by the opposition, the court sentenced Petri to 18 months in prison, which was suspended because he pleaded guilty to the charges. He was also given a €1000 fine and was expelled from the country.
Petri had initially denied the allegations before stepping down as the mayor elect when the police documents were published. The swearing in of the new Shkodra Municipal Assembly has been postponed until the prosecution has verified the allegations made by the opposition.
Petri was appointed as mayor after Albanian opposition parties boycotted the local elections that were due to be held at the end of June in protest against the governing Socialist Party and its ongoing corruption scandals and alleged links to organised crime.
Among the most high-profile cases are those of Former Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri who stands accused of drug trafficking and corruption, while the US State Department barred a former Albanian mayor from entering the US owing to corruption and mafia links.
Many other politicians and judges have had to resign due to a decriminalisation law enacted in 2016 which barred people with criminal convictions from holding public office.
A second government-appointed mayor is facing similar allegations to those directed at Petri. Agim Kajmaku, of Vora in central Albania, has been accused of having a criminal record in Greece under a false identity.