PRISTINA, Kosovo — A Kosovar courtroom on Wednesday sentenced a former infrastructure minister to greater than 3 1/2 years in jail for abusing his place by overspending public funds on a street mission. Three of his high aides had been additionally ordered to serve time.
The Pristina district courtroom sentenced former minister Pal Lekaj, 61, to a few years and eight months after convicting him of abuse of energy. He spent 53 million Euros ($57 million) to construct the Arben Xhaferi freeway in 2017 — an quantity the courtroom determined was too excessive. Lekaj was additionally prohibited from holding any public publish for 3 1/2 years.
The three aides had been sentenced to phrases starting from one yr and eight months to a few years and three months.
Lekaj stated he would enchantment. His lawyer Musa Damati known as the decision “scandalous,” saying the contract extension on the coronary heart of the allegations in opposition to his consumer was not a person however a collective choice.
Lekaj was infrastructure minister from 2017-2020 and has been an opposition lawmaker from the Alliance for the Way forward for Kosovo social gathering since then.
Kosovo’s authorities has made preventing corruption a precedence but it surely nonetheless stays a shortcoming within the nation, 25 years after the 1998-1999 warfare when NATO member international locations pushed again Serbian forces in a 78-day bombing marketing campaign. Serbia nonetheless doesn’t acknowledge Kosovo’s 2008 independence.
Kosovo was ranked 83 within the Transparency Worldwide’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2023, the identical because the earlier yr.