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Albania opposition leader innocent on abuse of party funds

January 13, 2020 GMT

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — The leader of the main opposition Democratic Party and two of its staff have been cleared of charges related to the misuse of public money that was said to be linked to secret Russian money.

Judge Lazer Sallaku of the Tirana court said Monday that the evidence presented did not justify pursuing the case against Lulzim Basha and two of his party officials.

Two years ago prosecutors accused them following allegations by the U.S. publication Mother Jones that the party received secret funds from Russian sources through a U.S. lobbyist during the 2017 parliamentary election.

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The conservative Democrats said the decision proved that the governing Socialists had pursued the case for political reasons. For their part, the Socialists said the verdict was “shameful” and pledged to continue it with their investigations.