Albanian Mayor Resigns After Admitting Criminal Past

Balkan Insight
Fecha de publicación: 
31 Mayo 2016

Elvis Rroshi, who has been mayor of Kavaja since 2011, resigned on Tuesday, the first senior official to step down after the passing of a law that aims to get people with criminal records out of Albanian politics.

“Today I have to disclose to the public with deepest regret that I have received unexpected information that changes everyything. My lawyers have informed me that, unexpectedly and unknowingly, I have received a conviction [while I was] under age,” Rroshi said in a Facebook post.

He said he was convicted in Italy but did not disclose what the crime was.

The new law, approved last year in parliament, obliges about 1,836 politicians and about 5,000 senior officials in Albania to declare whether they were ever charged with or convicted of criminal activity and authorises the authorities to check their statements.

In his statement, Rroshi admitted he had faced criminal charges in Munich “before 2002”.

However, he went on to state that he did “not remember” why he faced the charges, nor did he remember what the consequences of the charges were.

An earlier BIRN investigation published on June 2015 found that Rroshi has been convicted in Switzerland of dealing in drugs.

A Swiss law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told BIRN at that time that Swiss police records show Rroshi was the subject of criminal proceedings from 1993 to 1997.

“He was investigated for drug trafficking and distribution but from what I can see was a small fish,” the police official told BIRN.

“He was given a light sentence and deported to Albania after the pre-trial detention period,” he added.

Following the BIRN investigation, Prime Minister Edi Rama claimed that the allegations were a smear campaign while Rroshi threatened to sue BIRN Albania for defamation, demanding 100,000 euros if BIRN didn’t retract its investigation.

BIRN stood by the story and Rroshi did not act on his threat.  

However, both admitted at the time that Rroshi had changed his name from Ervin to Elvis, but claimed that it was not a significant issue.

Following the resignation of Rroshi on Tuesday, Rama, who chose him as a candidate for the Socialist Party in 2011 and 2015, mounted a passionate defence for his choice and praised Rroshi’s achievements as mayor.

“When we selected Elvis Rroshi as a candidate for mayor, we received his criminal history and found it blank,” Rama said.

He downplayed Rroshi’s problems with the law as “one of countless problems that young Albanians faced while trying to emigrate during the 1990s”.

Gjergj Erebara