The latest legal obstacle placed before Himare mayor-elect Fredi Beleri to prevent his swearing-in ceremony came on Monday, with a special Albanian anti-corruption court (GJKKO) again rejecting a motion by his defense attorneys.

According to the latter and local media reports, Beleri will appeal the latest ruling.

“”We will appeal to the (Albanian) supreme court. This decision entails fascist elements. The first-instance ruling reinforces the government’s efforts to declare a state of emergency in Himare. This is not true…A justification (for the decision) was not made known to us. We’re at the end of the process; the same three justices are taking a path towards punishing him and refusing his special furlough. They want the municipality of Himare at all costs,” his defense attorney said afterwards.

Beleri, 51, is the imprisoned mayor-elect of the southern Albanian municipality of Himare, a coastal region in southwest Albania. He defeated incumbent Gjergj Goro by the thinnest of margins last spring, however, he was then summarily charged with vote-buying by the same Albanian anti-corruption court days before the election. He has remained in pre-trial detention ever since.

Beleri has more-or-less accused Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who actively campaigned for Goro and is viewed, by Athens and Albanian political rivals, as indirectly opposing his release on bail.

What has infuriated much of the recognized ethnic Greek minority in the Adriatic country and caused a stern diplomatic reaction by Athens is the fact that Beleri has not been allowed out of jail in order to take the oath of office, thus risking a loss of his seat.

The Greek government has also repeatedly cited the rule of law concept of presumption of innocence and repeated delays in commencing and concluding the trial process. Meanwhile, media in both countries have reported that prosecution witnesses have disappeared, with conflicting testimony also bedeviling the prosecution’s case.

In what’s viewed as an attempt to defuse the crisis in bilateral relations, given that the Mitsotakis government has signaled that it will block Albania’s EU accession course over the Beleri case, Rama last week acknowledged that Beleri and his ticket won the Himare election.