Albanian court reopens case of ex-minister over fatal blast

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) — An Albanian court ruled on Friday to reopen the case of a former defense minister who faced charges over a massive blast at a munitions disposal factory 13 years ago that killed 26 people.

Judge Saida Dollani of the Tirana Appeals Special Court Against Corruption and Organized Crime that handles top officials’ corruption cases asked a lower court to re-open the case against Fatmir Mediu whose 2009 abuse of power charge was dismissed because of his immunity from prosecution as a re-elected member of parliament.

Mediu remains a member of parliament with an opposition party, but parliamentary immunity from criminal cases was abolished in 2012.

Mediu has denied wrongdoing, calling the move politically motivated.

The case resumed following a request from Zamira Durda and her husband Feruzan Durda, whose six-year-old son was killed while playing in the backyard of their home in Gerdec, outside the capital, Tirana, in the March 15, 2008 explosion. Apart from resulting in the death of 26 people the blast injured 264 and damaged about 5,500 houses.

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

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