Albania: New gov't seeks trial of former minister

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) - Albania's 3-month-old Socialist government says it will seek the prosecution of a conservative former defense minister on corruption charges, touching off a new round of confrontations between the country's two dominant political parties.

Defense Minister Mimi Kodheli said Monday she is sending judicial authorities evidence allegedly implicating her predecessor, Arben Imami, in the abuse of duty and mismanagement of public funds _ offenses that carry a maximum prison sentence of seven years.

Imami denied the allegations and called the action against him a "primitive and vengeful act" directed by Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama. "I address myself to Mr. Rama to tell him he is crossing a legal, ethical and political line. His threats frighten no one," Imami told reporters outside his party's headquarters.

Imami's long-governing, center-right Democratic Party lost general elections in June, and formally handed over power to the Socialists in September. The two parties have been locked in bitter rivalry and frequently accuse one another of corruption.

The advocacy group Transparency International has ranked Albania 116th out of 177 countries in its 2013 corruption index.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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