An Albanian court has upheld a 2-year prison sentence against newly-elected European Parliament MEP, Fredi Beleri, today, dispelling rumors that his sentence would be reduced and he would be released.

Beleri, an Albanian citizen of Greek origin, is serving a two-year prison sentence after he was charged with corruption by a first-instance court in Albania for allegedly engaging in active bribery to secure votes leading up to the municipal elections in the southern Albanian town of Himare.

The MEP, elected in the recent European Parliament elections on the New Democracy ticket, was elected Mayor in May of 2023 in the largely ethnically Greek-populated town of Himare by a slim margin of just 19 votes. However, the election result was overturned by an Albanian court after his main opponent accused him of buying eight votes for 335 euros.

The newly-elected MEP has repeatedly claimed his prosecution was politically motivated and false pointing to Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.

“I don’t expect the judicial outcome to be fair,” he said in a phone interview with Politico from prison. Beleri says that the judge assigned to his case is a political appointment, predicting that his case would eventually reach the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

“In any other country in the world, the only outcome I could expect would be my acquittal—because there is no evidence, there is no case,” he emphasizes.

Greek-Albanian relations have been strained by the case, with Greece maintaining the actions against Fredi Beleri revealed a lack of rule of law in its northern neighbor, while Albania countering it was an internal matter.