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Orient president to face initial hearing over extradition to Albanian

09:30 05 November 2015

Leyton Orient

Leyton Orient's Brisbane Road (pic: Ian Walton).

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Italian releases statement confirming Albanian requests should have no impact on his duties at Brisbane Road

Leyton Orient president Francesco Becchetti has released a statement confirming he will face a procedural hearing in London on December 7 after Albanian authorities requested he be extradited from the UK to face trial.

The 49-year-old has been accused of fraud-ralted offence and money laundering over a failed hydroelectric scheme that allegedly cost the government tens of millions of Euros in grants and unpaid taxes.

A statement on the official club website, read: “After learning of the existence of an arrest warrant in Albania in mid June this year, Mr Becchetti, a respected and well-regarded European businessman, notified the British authorities of his presence in London.

“A request was later received by the British authorities from Albania for Mr Becchetti, to be extradited. Thereafter, following a request by the Metropolitan Police, Mr Becchetti made himself available, by appointment, on 26 October and has handed over his travel documents.

“Mr Becchetti strongly denies all the charges against him, which have been brought by the Albanian Government and are demonstrably groundless, improperly motivated and unsupported by any evidence. On 7th December a procedural hearing for directions will take place in London, where a time-line will be agreed with the Crown Prosecution Service for the Court to look into the Albanian request.

“A substantive hearing will not take place until next year. Certainly no decision has been made regarding extradition. Mr Becchetti and his lawyers believe his case is extremely robust.

“Because of Mr Becchetti’s ownership of Agonset Shpk, an Albanian company operating the Agon Channel TV station, which advocates freedom of speech and which has broadcast stories that are critical of the Albanian Government, Agonset and the TV station have been attacked by the Government.

“Mr Becchetti’s companies’ assets have been seized and their bank accounts frozen. These actions forced the TV station to stop broadcasting; and furthermore and for this reason alone, journalists working for Agon TV have been prevented from being paid.

“Indeed, broadcasts by Agon TV in late May 2015, in advance of local elections in Albania, exposed the scandal of the fake Identity Cards and as a consequence, the manipulation of the electoral lists compiled by the Albanian Government, which resulted in a single person being able to vote up to twenty times in the elections.

“The exposure of this scandal appears to have triggered the Government’s baseless charges, dated 5th June, against Mr Becchetti. The Albanian Government’s claims are also a reaction to two significant arbitrations commenced by companies associated with Mr Becchetti against the Government for large amounts of money, and are made to pressurise Mr Becchetti to settle these arbitrations.

“Accordingly, Mr Becchetti sees that the Albanian requests should have no impact on his duties and responsibilities as Chairman of Leyton Orient. On the contrary, Mr Becchetti continues to work very hard to reinvigorate the club, which is one of the oldest football clubs in London.”

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