Former Albania minister charged over deadly 2008 munitions explosion

Former Albania minister charged over deadly 2008 munitions explosion

Albania”s former defence minister has been charged over a deadly explosion at a munition disposal factory in 2008.

Fatmir Mediu has been accused of abusing his position by Albania’s Special Structure Against Corruption (SPAK).

An identical charge against him was dismissed in 2009 because he was immune from prosecution as an elected MP.

But after the rule was abolished in 2012, an Albanian court ruled in September that the criminal case could be reopened.

The deadly factory blast in March 2008 killed 26 people, injured 264, and damaged about 5,500 houses near Tirana.

The case against Mediu was re-opened after the parents of a six-year-old boy who died in the explosion sent a request to prosecutors.

In 2012, a court convicted and jailed 19 people over the explosion, but angry relatives of the victims have complained that top government officials had evaded justice.

Mediu — who is still a member of parliament for an opposition party — has denied wrongdoing and says the case is politically motivated.

He had resigned as Albania’s minister of defence two days after the explosion.

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