Diplomatic Flap As Albanian Minister Caught Driving Stolen Car

By Louis Economopoulos | July 7, 2008 | 8:07pm EDT

Athens, Greece (CNSNews.com) - The well-dressed man being driven in a luxury Mercedes certainly didn't raise suspicion on December 20 when he reached the northern Greek border station of Christalopigi.

After all, he was the Public Order Minister of neighboring Albania, Spartak Poci, making an official visit to Greece to meet his counterpart here, Michalis Chrysohoidis.

Greek custom authorities, however, dutifully inspected the minister's car.

As private Greek television station Mega TV reported Sunday, the authorities discovered that Poci's car was stolen property and the vehicle was immediately confiscated.

The custom authorities told Poci that he would have to find another means of travel to reach Athens. Chrysohoidis then stepped in and sent a government vehicle to pick up Poci for their meeting, after which the Albanian flew home.

The Greek government spokesman admitted the embarrassing incident on Monday, stating Poci did not know he was using a stolen vehicle and that he had no objections handing over the vehicle to Greek authorities.

Ironically, Poci was on a two-day official visit to Greece to discuss cross-border crime with his Greek counterpart.

Using a security system set up at the border point in line with European Union regulations, customs authorities discovered that the serial numbers of the car matched those of a vehicle reported stolen by the Mafia in Italy earlier this year.

The expensive black Mercedes was then reportedly sold to the Albanian government, which was unaware it was stolen, according to Mega TV.

The car remains at the Greek border until its rightful owner is located.

Greek diplomatic sources told CNSNews.com that the Greek authorities tried to hide the embarrassing incident on behalf of the Albanian government. The attempt was successful for more than a week, until reporters of the television channel picked up the story by chance from customs authorities at Christalopigi.

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