Leyton Orient have released a statement saying the Albanian government has ‘abandoned’ its efforts to have the Metropolitan Police arrest the club’s owner Francesco Becchetti and extradite him to Albania.
The country’s authorities in Tirana lodged a request with the British Home Office to be sent back to Albania to face charges of fraud, an allegation Becchetti strongly denies and has disputed for over a year as court hearings proceeded the request.
The case has now been cleared as the club confirmed: “The Government of Albania has abandoned its efforts to have Leyton Orient FC president, Francesco Becchetti, extradited.
“The decision announced at Westminster Magistrates Court today (July 20, 2016) formally ends more than a year of strong pressure for Mr Becchetti.”
The Italian, owner of a media group that operates in his homeland and Albania, has long proclaimed that there were sinister motives behind the country’s pursuit to have him extradited – angry over his Television new channel’s comments regarding the Albanian government.
Other sources have alleged that Becchetti, whose primary business operations lie in the energy sector, was part of a hydroelectric scheme which collapsed in planning costing the Albanian government considerable losses. No court has proved this and with today’s announcement at Westminster Magistrates Court has put the issue to bed.
Orient’s statement explained: “Earlier this month a hearing in Westminster Magistrates Court found that document submitted by the Albanian Government in support of its extradition case was “totally misleading”.
“The document made a number of false statements about Albanian law, including that the extradition request could not be withdrawn, and even that the Minister would face “sanctions” in Albania if he withdrew the request.
“The judge, District Judge Nina Tempia, found these claims to be untrue. She found that there had been an attempted “manipulation and usurpation” of the court’s process by the Albanian Government and ruled that the proceedings against Mr Becchetti be stayed,” the statement said.
Becchetti took over the club from long-term chairman Barry Hearn in 2014, but despite one relegation and a sackings count that has hit double figures it was perhaps this episode that has caused the 49-year-old the most distress.
Becchetti said: “Finally after more than a year, and after a lengthy legal fight against the unwarranted persecution of myself and my employees, we have the first just decision made by the Albanian Government. Not to appeal the court’s decision and to end this politically motivated action, was the minimum we expected. There should now be immediate end to all other proceedings against me in Albania that remain unresolved.”
Due to the Albanian legal team not appealing the decision, the matter of proceedings in this country are unlikely to be re-opened. However, in Albania, there has been no news as to whether the freeze on the millionaire’s assets will be lifted.
This has not stopped the O’s from bringing in nine new players to the club including promotion winners Robbie Weir (Burton), Tom Parkes (Bristol Rovers) and Jordan Bowery (Oxford United).