Albanian PM launches lawsuit against German journalist

Albanian PM launches lawsuit against German journalist

TIRANA, June 26 – Prime Minister Edi Rama announced on Tuesday through social networks that he authorized a German lawyer to launch a lawsuit on the BILD wiretap recordings alleging his government’s implication into vote rigging.  “I just handed the

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Meta says Electoral College decision has “no effect” on Presidential decree

Meta says Electoral College decision has “no effect” on Presidential decree

TIRANA, June 25 – President Ilir Meta issued a statement in response to the Electoral College backing up a Central Elections Commission decision not to deregister a political party from the June 30 local elections, a “no effect” decision.  The

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Electoral College: “Local elections will take place on June 30″

Electoral College: “Local elections will take place on June 30″

TIRANA, June 24 – Albania’s Electoral College supported on Monday the Central Election Commission’s (CEC), which decided the decree of President Ilir Meta cancelling June 30 as the local elections date is invalid and continued with the process preparation. The

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President Meta calls procedure to dismiss him from office a “fake process”

President Meta calls procedure to dismiss him from office a “fake process”

TIRANA, June 23 – Albanian President Ilir Meta called the parliament’s start of procedures to dismiss him from office after he signed a decree that cancelled June 30 as the local elections date a “fake process, blindly oriented politically.” Responding

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Opposition leader: “PM’s resignation, non-negotiable condition to resolve political crisis”

Opposition leader: “PM’s resignation, non-negotiable condition to resolve political crisis”

TIRANA, June 22 – Head of Democratic Party Lulzim Basha said on Friday evening that the departure of Prime Minister Edi Rama remains a non-negotiable condition for resolving the country’s political crisis.  Speaking during the protest organized in front of

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“Albania, press freedom is declining,” seven int’l organizations report

“Albania, press freedom is declining,” seven int’l organizations report

TIRANA, June 22 – A delegation of seven  international press freedom organizations published on Friday a preliminary report on the difficulties Albanian journalists face. The report stressed that press freedom in Albania has deteriorated and the government is not transparent,

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Shkodra court sentences former opposition MP to house arrest

Shkodra court sentences former opposition MP to house arrest

TIRANA, June 22 – The Shkodra court sentenced on Saturday former opposition’s Democratic Party MP Bardh Spahia to “home arrest,” arrested three days ago while going to a television studio. Police had taken numerous security measures for the court, while

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A state sinks into the mafia swamp

A state sinks into the mafia swamp

By Pieter Tiede   A police chief who invents a plan for electoral manipulation with a minister. A minister who calls a nationwide known mafia boss to talk about buying votes. A mafia boss who collects identity cards – BILD

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Is the country heading to civil conflict?

Is the country heading to civil conflict?

The German newspaper BILD published this week a second and third group of interceptions conducted by the prosecution relating to the local and preliminary elections in Northern Dibra region showing Prime Minister Edi Rama, SP Minister Damian Gjiknuri and Saimir

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German wiretaps provide more incriminating evidence against Socialist majority

German wiretaps provide more incriminating evidence against Socialist majority

TIRANA, June 18 – The German newspaper BILD published this week a second and third group of interceptions conducted by the prosecution relating to the local and preliminary elections in Northern Dibra region showing Prime Minister Edi Rama, SP Minister

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 26 - Prime Minister Edi Rama announced on Tuesday through social networks that he authorized a German lawyer to launch a lawsuit on the BILD wiretap recordings alleging his government’s implication into vote rigging. 

"I just handed the German lawyer Matthias Prinz the procurement for the initiation of the court process over the BILD publications. Let the German courts decide who is right and who is guilty of this. I do it because the Albanians deserve to know the truth from the justice of that shadowless country ,”  Rama informed, make a step he had warned of in advance official. 

His decision came a few days after the well-known German newspaper published several phone calls intercepted by the Albanian prosecution, where Rama, high SP ministers and other officials are allegedly heard discussing elections and vote rigging  in the Dibra province of the country.

According to BILD, conversations prove the socialists' abuses in the elections, pressure on voters, vote-buying, and family voting threats to maximize the left-wing victory.

Rama and other officials heard in the video confirmed they were the ones having those conversations after the wire tappings first came out and initially said they would also find and sue the prosecutors who released such investigative files, as this is illegal. 

Pieter Tiede, the journalist who wrote the story in BILD, immediately replied through social networks.

“Crazy: Albanian Prime Minister wants to sue me. The only thing he has so far is one of the most expensive lawyers in Germany,” he wrote originally in German in his Facebook status. 

The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) also reacted to the news. 

“Albania’s PM Edi Rama has launched the legal process against Peter Tiede. To our delegation last week he said he “would not use criminal law against journalists but would continue to bring civil defamation cases against journalists in ‘extreme’ cases,” the ECPMF tweeted. 

The centre’s legal advisor Flutura Kusari also reacted.

“During our mission we found out that press freedom in Albania is deteriorating. Instead of filing lawsuits against journalists, PM Edi Rama should engage in improving press freedom in the country and stop calling journos trash bins,” she added. 

A mission comprising seven well known media freedom organisations, among them the ECPMF, just left the capital after having called on politicians on all sides in Albania to stop harassing and denigrating journalists and media that they do not control.

Rama met the delegation, which reported he had defended the use of offensive language towards journalists but had also agreed to not engage in the future. Meanwhile, Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj did not meet with the mission. 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-25 10:31:23
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 25 - President Ilir Meta issued a statement in response to the Electoral College backing up a Central Elections Commission decision not to deregister a political party from the June 30 local elections, a “no effect” decision. 

The Electoral College was interpreted as recognizing June 30 as the local elections date, despite Meta’s latest decree canceling the elections due to a resigned opposition which has been protesting and calling for Prime Minister Edi Rama’s removal since February - a process Meta has said would be “undemocratic.”

Meta said on Tuesday that “the only institution deciding on the election date is the office of the President,” and that only the Constitutional Court can pass a verdict on a presidential decree. 

He further added the decision was an “intra-party decision that has no effect on his decree,” considering the Electoral College is incomplete with only one judge currently vetted and a CEC dominated by Socialist Party members. 

Meta restated his call to all parties, the government and the opposition to reflect on the political situation and reach an agreement on a new date for the local elections in order for all the political parties to participate.

The President warned that if the Socialist Party insists on holding “internal party elections” on June 30, it would stifle the EU ambitions of Albania for years to come. 

“No foreign ambassador would ever tell you this, but even if the elections that no longer legally exist were held the European future of Albania and opening of the negotiations would have an unknown future for a very long time. Such solutions do not fulfill any minimal standard of the Copenhagen criteria but Albania would be even convicted by the European Court of Human Rights. Let me be clear, I did not cancel the elections in any embassy, but in Albania,” Meta said. 

On Sunday, Meta issued another statement, calling the parliament’s start of procedures to dismiss him from office after he signed a decree that cancelled June 30 as the local elections date a “fake process, blindly oriented politically.”

The arguments on whether elections will be held on June 30 and Meta will keep his office began when Meta issued the decree canceling the elections, to which the Socialist majority responded by starting procedures to dismiss him from office, although the country is currently lacking a functional Constitutional Court. 

 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-24 17:17:22
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 24 - Albania’s Electoral College supported on Monday the Central Election Commission’s (CEC), which decided the decree of President Ilir Meta cancelling June 30 as the local elections date is invalid and continued with the process preparation.

The college was involved by the National Unity Party (PUK), as it asked to be removed from running in the elections per Meta’s cancelation decree, but the CEC rejected its request.

By backing the CEC’s decision regarding the PUK request to be removed from the electoral race, the college virtually recognized June 30 as the local elections’ date. 

The legal arguments upon which the college reached Monday's decision have not been disclosed, but are expected to be disclosed in the coming days when the college’s argumentative decision is published.

The Albanian opposition said the college doesn’t have the authority to assess the president's decree, which, according to it, can only be assessed by the Constitutional Court, which is out of function for the moment. For its part, the Socialist Party is referring to a 2017 decision of the Constitutional Court College, which, according to it, assesses the president's decree as an individual administrative act.

In a reaction which followed the college's decision, President spokesman Teddy Blushi said that according to him, Monday’s developments do not constitute "a surprise from the next long-orchestrated sketch.” 

The Electoral College body that made this decision consisted of judges Tomor Skreli, Ridvan Hado, Lindita Sinanaj, Artur Malaj and Shkëlqim Mustafa.

“On the one hand, the CEC says there will be elections, while the President says there won’t. Our party and our electorate came to an absurd situation. It looks like we were fighting windmills. We do not want to participate and we want the National Unity Party to be removed from the ballot paper,” head of the PUK Idajet Beqiri said during Monday’s session.

Meanwhile, Albanian-American organization VATRA called on political parties to sit and talk in order to offer people a long-term solution that can secure not only democratic standards of the country, but also a peace and social unification.

Through a statement, the Pan-Albanian Federation of Americans expresses concern over the situation in Albania, which it considers to be unprecedented and says it is deeply painful that even after nearly three decades of pluralism, some deep problems related to electoral processes still remain, although interference in the process is completely condemnable. 

Civil conflict, which is taking ground day by day, should not be allowed, and the government has the primary responsibility to find ways to quench it. The sharpening of political disagreement unfortunately accompanies large-scale social divisions, which undermine the European objectives of the country,” the statement said.

VATRA urged the parties to sit on the negotiating table, hoping that the process will be serious and not merely transitory, and at the same time expresses regret over the loss of time, which, according to her, is taken from Albania and its people. 

 
                    [post_title] => Electoral College: "Local elections will take place on June 30"
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-23 22:18:25
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 23 - Albanian President Ilir Meta called the parliament’s start of procedures to dismiss him from office after he signed a decree that cancelled June 30 as the local elections date a “fake process, blindly oriented politically.”

Responding to the letter sent by the Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission of Laws Ulsi Manja regarding the beginning of the dismissal process, the Presidency specified that “the decree is taken in full support of the constitutional provisions and in defense of the fundamental principles deriving from them. This decree is in force and is published in the Official Gazette on June 11 and is consequently known and mandatory for implementation by all, including Parliament.”

In the president’s response it is underlined that the head of state’s “important act interrupted a fictional electoral process practically transformed into a voting process, without competition and without alternative.” 

Consequently, “all the current parliamentary activity that strives to interrupt the activity of the President of the Republic, but without being able to overthrow the content of his decree, is a fake process, unsupported in constitutional arguments but only blindly oriented politically .”

Meta’s letter goes further. stating that "this fake and blind political process does not serve at all to solve the deep crisis in the country, but rather it exacerbates it.”

The Socialist majority has considered the President's decree as "an act of open violation of the Constitution". The dismissal procedures started at the request of the 55 Socialist MPs, and they foresee some procedures that require their time.

Following the assessment of the Laws Commission, it is expected that the Parliament will then decide on setting up an Investigation Commission that will also need to hear the President's arguments. 

Afterwards, the committee’s report goes to parliament. Approval of the dismissal requires a majority of 2/3 of the members of parliament. The majority alone does not have these votes, and will have to win over the support of new opposition MPs in the hall. The last word, however, belongs the Constitutional Court. The latter is still out of function, with only one of nine mandatory members. 

Meta signed the decree canceling the June 30 local elections arguing Albania is heading towards an undemocratic process, with many of the municipalities represented with only one candidate due to the opposition’s early-February resignation. 

The opposition’s Democratic Party and Socialist Movement for Integration resigned their parliamentary mandates in February and have been protesting ever since against Prime Minister Edi Rama’s government, which they accuse of vote buying and ties to organized crime and demand its resignation and the establishment of a caretaker government.

 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-23 12:14:38
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-23 10:14:38
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 22 - Head of Democratic Party Lulzim Basha said on Friday evening that the departure of Prime Minister Edi Rama remains a non-negotiable condition for resolving the country's political crisis. 

Speaking during the protest organized in front of the Prime Minister’s Office, Basha added as another "non-negotiable" condition giving a prison sentence to all "of those who steal votes", referring to the recent wiretap recordings made by the German newspaper BILD and which allegedly revealed the highest ranks of Socialist officials participating in vote-buying. 

"Now that the evidence is there for everyone to see, the  February 16 pledge remains in force. There is and will not be any negotiations with Rama as Prime Minister, there will be no political agreement without first punishing the vote thieves, no political agreement without first giving back your vote and your dignity,” said Mr. Basha, addressing supporters gathered at the main boulevard Tirana.

The opposition’s position also remains unchanged on the June 30 elections. According to Basha, the PM “is heading towards a state coup d'etat without the opposition. Rama should know we won’t take steps backwards. There will be no elections on June 30. The civil alliance is on its feet, the battle continues from city to city and from village to village. Any attempt to provoke Albanians will fail with shame, while June 30 will be Rama's political cemetery,” said Basha, inviting opposition supporters “to be in every street and corner in order to defend democracy and the constitution with the power of our righteous cause.” 

Like never before during the protests of the last few months, not even the slightest incident was registered. After his speech, Basha again invited the opposition support to march towards the parliament. No incident was registered there either, while Basha, after briefly staying, headed for the Democratic Party headquarters.

Saturday’s protests took place at a time the country’s deadlock seems to have reached its peak. The last two weeks were marked by violent incidents in many opposition-led municipalities around the country. 

The Commission of Electoral Administration Zones offices were attacked and in some cases the election materials were destroyed. Clashes with the police also took place, followed by arrests and prosecutions against dozens of people, according to the authorities and employees of the municipal police, as well as the former Democratic deputies, as in the case of Bardh Spahia.

The opposition further stated that it recognizes President Ilir Meta’s decree which canceled the elections, while the majority continues with the electoral campaign.

The protest was preceded by statements by the international community, which called on opposition leaders to ensure that it would be peaceful and avoid the escalation of the situation.

The US Embassy's statement last night contained multiple messages, on the one hand condemning acts of recently observed violence, requiring that the perpetrators be held accountable, while on the other hand seeking to protect the integrity of the electoral process. Regarding Friday’s protest, the embassy addressed its organizers "to take responsibility in the face of rule of law principles, publicly appeal to their supporters to gather peacefully and vigorously refuse violence in every opportunity.”

One night before the protest, during an interview on Klan TV, Basha, while calling on citizens to join the protest, said that "there will be absolutely nothing to threaten a citizen's hair.”

 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-22 14:10:55
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 22 - A delegation of seven  international press freedom organizations published on Friday a preliminary report on the difficulties Albanian journalists face.

The report stressed that press freedom in Albania has deteriorated and the government is not transparent, while politicians use derogatory language against the media.

The report was published under a joint mission held in Tirana by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Article 19, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), the European Journalists Federation (EJF), the International Press Institute (IPI), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Media Organization in South East Europe (SEEMO).

Sarah Clarke, belonging to the "Article 19" organization, said during a follow-up press conference that the mission is concerned about journalists’ self-censorship and is shocked by the close ties between politicians, media owners and interest groups and the sources behind media funding - all elements which make the journalist's work difficult when preparing articles against corruption and legal violations.

After a series of meetings with media and government representatives, they noted that Albania is not fulfilling domestic law obligations, as well as her obligations as a member of the Council of Europe, the OSCE and aspirations as a European Union member state. 

“Compared to the region, Albania is one of the countries with the greatest problems regarding press freedom,” said Oliver Vujovic from the SEEMO organization.

The report notes that physical attacks on journalists have not been investigated, while senior public officials often use insulting and demeaning language against critical journalists.

Attila Mong, belonging to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, said the mission has noticed a reluctance of Albanian journalists to denounce cases of pressure on them, because they fear that they may suffer even worse if they denounce them.

Meanwhile, Scott Griffen from the International Press Institute said that currently in Europe and the Balkans, governments are struggling to hamper independent reporting and keep journalists from being critical by imposing their own messages. 

"We have also noticed this in Albania. This should not be accepted because it is not normal. Governments can give their opinion, but the reporter is free to reflect the story from his implied point of view,” Griffen said. 

The delegation reported that "Albanian public administration, from Tirana's prime minister and mayor's office, is not transparent with the media and restricting of critical journalists point of view."

"The recently proposed media legislation, including a draconian scheme of rules for Albanian and foreign media on the Internet, does not comply with international human rights standards,” the report also read. 

The delegation gathered information and held meetings with journalists, editors, representatives of civil society, international organizations, embassies in Tirana, senior government officials and Prime Minister Edi Rama. 

Mayor of Tirana Erjon Veliaj refused to meet the delegation.

"Defamation jail sentences were abolished in 2012, but defamation and insult remain criminal offenses punishable by a fine and in recent years there have been proposals to reintroduce criminal convictions for defamation against senior state officials in the criminal code,” the delegation said. 

The delegation voiced concern over the increasing number of politically motivated libel lawsuits, filed by politicians and seeking high reparations.

"Even without the threat of imprisonment, the possibility of facing a criminal conviction can push journalists to self-censorship,” the coalition said. "We encourage Albania to abolish all criminal laws for defamation and insult,” he said. 

 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-22 13:24:12
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-22 11:24:12
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 22 - The Shkodra court sentenced on Saturday former opposition’s Democratic Party MP Bardh Spahia to “home arrest,” arrested three days ago while going to a television studio.

Police had taken numerous security measures for the court, while opposition supporters cheered upon Spahia’s arrival. 

He is accused of contradicting police officers and intentional damage of election materials. The trial of the former Shkodra MP was attended by a group of DP members. 

On Saturday, the Shkodra court issued security measures for another five arrests connected to the recent events in Shkodra. Among them are two municipal police officers, who were sent to prison for 30 days.

At the end of the session, former Democratic MP Flamur Ndoka described the Shkodra court decision towards Spahia as a politically motivated one. He said nothing was going to stop and frighten the opposition to defend the constitution and democracy, and that June 30 is not going to be the date of the elections. 

Spahia was arrested following the incident at the Commission of Electoral Administration Zone (KZAZs) set up in the foreign language school, where a group of Democratic Party leaders, along with opposition supporters and municipal police workers, collided with police forces and broke the school entrance.

Some of the protesters threw gasoline bottles and rocks, breaking glass and burning the June 30 preparatory materials. 

On Saturday, the Mat court gave a jail sentence to ten people accused of damaging election materials of KZAZs 16 and 17 in Burrel and Klos districts respectively. 

 
                    [post_title] => Shkodra court sentences former opposition MP to house arrest 
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                    [ID] => 142332
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-21 13:18:50
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-21 11:18:50
                    [post_content] => By Pieter Tiede 

 

A police chief who invents a plan for electoral manipulation with a minister. A minister who calls a nationwide known mafia boss to talk about buying votes. A mafia boss who collects identity cards - BILD are new secret phone recordings of Albanian anti-mafia investigators.

The tapes show an example of the collaboration for election manipulation in 2017 between the highest politicians of the ruling socialists, mafia bosses, police and senior civil servants in Albania.

 

And they show why the election business pays off for everyone involved:
  • The socialists remained in power.
  • Police leaders were promoted.
  • Mafia bosses got promises of impunity.
  It's about:
  • Vote purchase,
  • Cooperation with criminal gangs,
  • Threat and blackmail of voters and civil servants who want to vote for the opposition
  • The use of police and gangs for vote-buying and blackmail.
  Involved in this case:
  • Energy Minister Damian Gjiknuri
  • The then police chief of the Diber region, Robert Aga
  • The head of Parliament's security committee, Xhemal Qefalia
  • And the nationwide notorious Imer Lala - a friend of the Prime Minister. According to investigators in Tirana a convicted serious criminal, whose daughter makes career with the socialists.
  Police Chief Robert Aga: Yes, mate! Bekim Krashi: Ah, What you have achieved, what you have achieved, you killed it completely, hahahahaha! You are killing it, you are not letting anything go! Police Chief Robert Aga: I want to have 1,000 plus [votes]. I do not accept anything under 1,000. […] Police Chief Robert Aga: My strategy works! Bekim Krashi: I know, I know. You have declared it! You are a political commissar, hahahaha! Police Chief Robert Aga: Yes, yes. Look, is [Ministe] Damian Gjiknuri there with you? Bekim Krashi: Why, you want me to pass the phone over? Police Chief Robert Aga: Yes, pass it on. Police Chief Robert Aga: Hi, boss! Minister Daminan Gjiknuri: What’s up? […] Police Chief Robert Aga: Because you did not have faith in me. Minister Daminan Gjiknuri: Earthquake! Earthquake! You are the master! You said it… Hahahaha! You are a giant! Cmon, ciao. Don’t speak too much here, right.   For more than 25 years elections in Albania have been "bought" again and again. But never came to real charges. Even after the election in 2017 nothing happened - although the extent was greater than ever before, as experienced investigators report. In 2017, the drug mafia played a decisive role nationwide - she had been able to cultivate marijuana undisturbed in the country for the first time the year before, and had actually shopped into the state!   Police Chief Robert Aga: Hey, I am part of the Socialist Party, and I would not change, not for a million years. […] MP Xhemal Qefalia: Gramoz [Ruci] was there, also Edi [Rama] was there. All of them were there. As we were talking… in fact Damian [Gjiknuri] spoke very well about you, also Blerina [Gjylameti], and I said: He needs to get going, you have f…ed him, sent him there [to Dibër], he can also do a lot over here [in Tirana]. I also told Ulsi [Manja] in order to reinforce it, because I thought he might object to it. I told them, he can work for me here in Tirana, but the thing is even where he is, he gets things done. Police Chief Robert Aga: God willing they first move me to Bulqiza.   “In 2016 and 2017 Albania became the drug laboratory of Europe. If oligarchs and local clan chiefs had previously decided who would be elected, then the drug mafia had taken control nationwide, "according to a Western European investigator who was working undercover in Albania. Initially, Rama had really brought the country on a reform path, so he turned Albania from 2015 into a drug republic - the Colombia of Europe. The result: The EU initially postponed the membership talks planned for the summer to October. The president postponed municipal elections scheduled for late June - indefinitely. The government arrested opposition leaders nationwide - role models: Putin Russia and Erdogan Turkey! After recent BILD revelations raging government opponents stormed the election offices and burned election documents in some regions - there were several injured. The fear: these elections could have been bought.   MP Qefalia: I am here with the Prime Minister and the Ministers! Police Chief Robert Aga: Oh, no! I assure you I will do whatever you guys want! MP Qefalia: Let me get the minister for you, talk to him because you are breaking my balls, talk to him. [Talks to Minister Tahiri, who is the chief of Aga] Talk a bit to this friend of mine from the police station. Minister Tahiri: Hey, Bert! […] Thank you very much for your involvement, you are a giant! Police Chief Robert Aga: It’s my duty! Minister Tahiri: You were great! And don’t break your balls about what they [opposition party] are saying because… Police Chief Robert Aga: I am your soldier! MP Qefalia: Ulsi says hello too. Talk to Ulsi a bit too… MP Ulsi Manja: Where are you bro? Police Chief Robert Aga: How are you doing? MP Manja: With the Prime Minister now. Police Chief Robert Aga: I need to go there [promoted to Bulqiza]… for a while. MP Manja: We are thinking about a higher posting for you […] We are talking about something higher up, because we need you for something bigger. Police Chief Robert Aga: Ok then, fine. […] MP Qefalia: You are my friend, don’t beat my d…ck. Do you want to talk to [Edi] Rama? Police Chief Robert Aga: Cmon bro… now, that document…   The anti-mafia investigators had listened closely to hints from abroad since 2016. They had - among other things - initiated the investigation case "184 /" - actually, to prove the connections between drug bosses and politics. They caught tons of conversations and collusion between mafia, civil servants and the highest politicians.   Imer Lala speaks with Minister Damian Gjiknuri, who thanks him for the great results achieved in elections. Minister Gjiknuri: Earthquake! Earthquake! Wow! Wow! Wow! Earthquake! F…k them all! Ime Lala: You see what the two of us have achived! Damian Gjiknuri: Earthquake! Imer Lala: Hey, “The Man” was writing to me. Damian Gjiknuri: Yeah… Imer Lala: I told him, are you asleep. No, man, he said, I am stunned, I cannot sleep […] I told him you have not really known Damian Gjiknuri and myself then. Damian Gjiknuri: Earthquake! Earthquake! Imer Lala: Cmon, please, let me finish… Damian Gjiknuri: F…k them all! I think your word of over 1,000 [votes] is proven right now! Imer Lala: Hey, I mean it, even you have not really known me! Damian Gjiknuri: Eh, you have known me and I have known you!   But for more than two years, these recordings are unprocessed in the state prosecutor's office. Not one of the politicians or mobsters who clearly speak on the tapes about buying votes and illegal collusion was charged - or even heard only as a witness. The majority of the recordings could not even be written off.   Unknown person: Chairman of the FRD and his people have voted for Sherefedin Shehu [opposition candidate] Imer Lala: No, that’s not true!!! Unknown: Yes, I checked it now, cos he voted 20 minutes ago. Imer Lala: F…k him and al his people! Unknown: I checked it, because I left someone there, 5 people […] all of them for Sherefedin. Imer Lala: I will call that piece of shit. F…k him! When I came there I called him. I told him you will go to the headquarters […] and that we are for this one [PS candidate].   There is something exciting to hear. Approximately: ► As the Albanian Minister of Energy said after talks with Prime Minister Rama, the chief of police of Diber, that he could count on a transfer to a better post - as a reward for the election manipulation in his home region. ► As the head of the National Security Committee of Parliament intervenes. ► How a criminal de facto heads the election campaign in a whole region. ► How criminals collect IDs from voters of the opposition so that they can not vote. ► How the criminal prides himself on having been a "big man", ie head of government Rama.   Unknown: Bro, a certain Basri Veseli, do we know him? Imer Lala: Basri Veseli, yes. Unknown: I met him, but he hasn’t received anything [money]. Imer Lala: What do you mean? Nothing? Unknown: Did you bring him some coffee [slang for “money”]? Imer Lala: Yes, I did that sort of thing. Unknown: But then you are done buddy, but they have not gone there [with the money].   After the recent BILD publication, which showed exemplary, as from the top down government officials were systematically pressured to vote for the governing party, accused the Prime Minister Edi Rama BILD again lies, called on the prosecutor's office to investigate the sources for the Publish the secret recordings and announce their own lawsuits.   Unknown: Shefki Xhura, shall I give back the ID cards to him or not? Imer Lala: Give them back, give them back. Unknown: I have finished the thing with him [slang for “payment”], but shall I still give back the ID cards to him? Imer Lala: Give them back.   But the recordings, which BILD now publishes, allow only one more interpretation: For the 2017 election, there was a massive conspiracy of high-ranking politicians and criminals to manipulate elections. The problem in Albania: There is almost no political force that is considered "clean". The government accuses the opposition of accepting funds from Russia. The Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court have not been quorum for a year, because there were hardly any judges who could conclusively declare their income in the opinion of the majority in Parliament. But it is precisely these courts that should judge the electoral manipulations, if it ever comes to prosecutions.   Imer Lala: Yes, I was thinking we can have a coffee, but I was thinking, I have gathered the people here to allocate, the monitoring teams for the tents. Damian Gjiknuri: By the kiosk, are you there, at your place? Imer Lala: Yes, don’t be late please.   The Constitutional Court should also decide on the latest case: The ruling party wants to depose the country's president, Ilir Meta. Reason: He had deposed planned for the end of June local elections because he sees the freedom of choice in danger: because of the massive allegations against the ruling party, the mass protests and the fact that the opposition in protest against the last election manipulation in many places no longer own candidates had set up…   *This article was published on Wednesday, June 19,  2019 in the German newspaper BILD. [post_title] => A state sinks into the mafia swamp [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => a-state-sinks-into-the-mafia-swamp [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-21 13:18:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-21 11:18:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=142332 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 142297 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2019-06-21 11:05:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-21 09:05:46 [post_content] => The German newspaper BILD published this week a second and third group of interceptions conducted by the prosecution relating to the local and preliminary elections in Northern Dibra region showing Prime Minister Edi Rama, SP Minister Damian Gjiknuri and Saimir Tahiri (at the time ministers of Infrastructure and Interior respectively) and local police and education officials engaging in vote-buying practices. In the majority of the first group of interceptions, published on Monday, results a local socialist representative Arben Keshi, who according to SP sources, was subsequently appointed director in one of the Interior Ministry branches. The ones published on Wednesday mainly include Gjinkuri and Tahiri, who is currently under charges for links with the Vlora region Habilaj gang operating in Vlora during his time in office. The additionally show Ymer Lala, alleged criminal figure of the region, discussing with above-mentioned politicians on how to buy votes. Prime Minister Rama, who is also allegedly heard in a conversation with Keshi about the election situation and the expected outcome, reacted by saying that according to him that “the uninvestigated interceptions of Saliu's servant again show that they were done for blackmail.” Later in the week, Rama first accepted the veracity of the interceptions and later said he would sue German journalist Pieter Tiede for defamation. Further on, Albanian President Ilir Meta officially addressed the OSCE and ODIHR presences in Albania on Wednesday, stating the country will not be holding local elections on June 30 and if they are to be held, they will be considered invalid. In a letter directed to the respective offices, Meta wrote that his latest decree has annulled June 30 as the official local elections date, due to the deadlock Albania is facing and the opposition’s complete parliamentary resignation. Over the week, opposition supporters have clashed with police in several right-wing districts whose mayors have declared they will be adhering to Meta's second decree and asked the area's KZAZ's to evacuate the voting facilities. Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of the EU member states postponed the decision whether to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia in October, agreeing to the text that will be proposed to the heads of states who are to meet under the European Council meeting on June 20 to 21.     [post_title] => Is the country heading to civil conflict? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => is-the-country-heading-to-civil-conflict [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-28 10:33:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-28 08:33:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=142297 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 142279 [post_author] => 29 [post_date] => 2019-06-21 09:07:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-21 07:07:59 [post_content] => TIRANA, June 18 - The German newspaper BILD published this week a second and third group of interceptions conducted by the prosecution relating to the local and preliminary elections in Northern Dibra region showing Prime Minister Edi Rama, SP Minister Damian Gjiknuri and Saimir Tahiri (at the time ministers of Infrastructure and Interior respectively) and local police and education officials engaging in vote-buying practices. In the majority of the first group of interceptions, published on Monday, results a local socialist representative Arben Keshi, who according to SP sources, was subsequently appointed director in one of the Interior Ministry branches. The ones published on Wednesday mainly include Gjinkuri and Tahiri, who is currently under charges for links with the Vlora region Habilaj gang operating in Vlora during his time in office. The additionally show Ymer Lala, alleged criminal figure of the region, discussing with above-mentioned politicians on how to buy votes. Prime Minister Rama, who is also allegedly heard in a conversation with Keshi about the election situation and the expected outcome, reacted by saying that according to him that “the uninvestigated interceptions of Saliu's servant again show that they were done for blackmail.” Later in the week, Rama first accepted the veracity of the interceptions and later said he would sue German journalist Pieter Tiede for defamation.   The interceptions It is alleged the first group of interceptions include Prime Minister Edi Rama, former Infrastructure Minister Damian Gjiknuri, SP candidate for the Municipality of Lezhë Pjerin Ndreu, former deputy Artan Gaçe, director of the Interior Ministry Arben Keshi, Director of Education in Debar Drini Gjeci and Chief of Police Station No. 5 in Kamza Sali Skura.   Interception 1 Edi Rama calls Arben Keshi, director at the Interior Ministry and asks him whether he has realized his objective and spoken with the commissioners. “Keshi: Hey boss. Rama: How is it looking? Keshi: Well, we are meeting expectations well. Rama: Have you realized the goals? Keshi: I think so. We have, according to what the commissioners tell us. Rama: Is that so? Keshi: Yes, yes, I believe so. Rama: Did those degenerates try to pressure you last night? Keshi: Yes, they wanted to get me but it was a two minute thing as I was entering the SHTABI, they were waiting for me at the hotel I was sleeping. Rama: And what would they do to you? Keshi: It was about 50 of them. Nothing, this pressure stuff with hitting and such. That Flamur Noka is a bad man. Rama: Flamur Noka has nothing on you man.” The interception continues with Rama asking Keshi again whether objectives have been met and Keshi reassuring him the commissioners have said so.   Interception 2 Socialist MP Artan Gaci speaks to Keshi and tells him that Rama greatly appreciates him and the work he has done during the electoral campaign. “Gaci: We were in Ndroq with the big boss...great words for you. Keshi: Thanks. Gaci: No, on his side, from him, and certainly myself too. He said all Maqellare was won because of you. He said you also won in 2011, but some stuff happened with one box. It’s all Beni’s merit.”   Interception 3 Keshi speaks to an unidentified SP representative about buying the votes of one family. “SP representative: I’m at Tasie Lleshi. Keshi: What is she saying? SP representative: Refiku doesn’t want. She says 30, if it’s not around 30 she doesnn’t want to. Keshi: Let them, if they don’t want them let them. Let them go at the DP.”   Interception 4 Keshi speaks to Drini Gjeci, Head of Education in Diber and asks him to pressure all teachers that if they don’t vote for the SP they will be dismissed. “Gjeci: Do you think the directors did their job, or should I have a meeting with them all? Keshi: Call them one by one. On Monday you will all be damned. All directors on the phone, tell them ‘report on who have you called for’ because they are sleeping. Women, men, whatever. You will remind all teachers, based on the lists you have submitted. If they want to be employed on Monday.”   Interception 5 Arben Keshi speaks with Sali Skura, Head of the Kamza Police Station No. 5, and asks him to stop DP voters living in Kamza but with the right to vote in Diber. Skura says he has set up police patrols to stop them. “Keshi: You Kamza people tire us. Stop the Kamza buses. Skura: Well, we’ve put police blockpoints. They are expected to start tomorrow around three. Keshi: Do you have any information on how many? Skura: It is thought to be 450 to 500 people. Keshi: Dis Xhelali organize them? Skura: Xhelali has organized the whole municipality today. He is leading them to new Tourism Hotel in Lura. How does Maqellara look? Arben Keshi: Maqellara is good because there is no Kamez point. Skura: The problem is Lura. But we have all commissioners in our pockets, right? Keshi: Yes, yes.”   Head of opposition: “Removing Rama from office is a national mission”   On the eve of the elections, the Democratic Party filed a criminal charge against a number of local police directors, regional education officials, tax authorities, OSHEE, etc. and publicly denounced Ymer Lala, an allegedly renowned criminal figure in the area. Following the publication of the latest interceptions, head of the opposition’s Democratic Party Lulzim Basha reacted through a Facebook post. “Edi Rama is the crime padrino. He no longer has an alibi. Removing him and his band from office is a national mission,” Basha wrote.   Rama vows to sue German journalist over defamation Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama claimed on Monday that he is being blackmailed by the publication of prosecution-intercepted conversations that are alleged to highlight widespread violations by scores of Socialist Party officials during local elections in the Dibra municipality. In a series of messages on Twitter, Rama said he will sue Peter Tiede, a German journalist who published the leaked conversations in the German newspaper Bild. “I decided to sue this journalist in German courts and in that blessed country,” Rama said in one Twitter post, hours after new 16 intercepted phone calls were published by Bild in German and English, and the audio was posted on Tiede’s Facebook page in Albanian. Meanwhile, Rama previously confirmed that the conversation between him and Keshi was genuine, but denied any wrongdoing, insisting that Keshi was not a public official during the elections, just a Socialist Party supporter. “I do confirm this conversation and I would do it again,” Rama wrote on Twitter. “AK did not work in the police force back then,” he added. It is based on this detail that Rama claims he will sue Tiede for. [post_title] => German wiretaps provide more incriminating evidence against Socialist majority [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => german-wiretaps-provide-more-incriminating-evidence-against-socialist-majority [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-21 09:09:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-21 07:09:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=142279 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 142356 [post_author] => 281 [post_date] => 2019-06-26 13:48:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-26 11:48:20 [post_content] => TIRANA, June 26 - Prime Minister Edi Rama announced on Tuesday through social networks that he authorized a German lawyer to launch a lawsuit on the BILD wiretap recordings alleging his government’s implication into vote rigging.  "I just handed the German lawyer Matthias Prinz the procurement for the initiation of the court process over the BILD publications. Let the German courts decide who is right and who is guilty of this. I do it because the Albanians deserve to know the truth from the justice of that shadowless country ,”  Rama informed, make a step he had warned of in advance official.  His decision came a few days after the well-known German newspaper published several phone calls intercepted by the Albanian prosecution, where Rama, high SP ministers and other officials are allegedly heard discussing elections and vote rigging  in the Dibra province of the country. According to BILD, conversations prove the socialists' abuses in the elections, pressure on voters, vote-buying, and family voting threats to maximize the left-wing victory. Rama and other officials heard in the video confirmed they were the ones having those conversations after the wire tappings first came out and initially said they would also find and sue the prosecutors who released such investigative files, as this is illegal.  Pieter Tiede, the journalist who wrote the story in BILD, immediately replied through social networks. “Crazy: Albanian Prime Minister wants to sue me. The only thing he has so far is one of the most expensive lawyers in Germany,” he wrote originally in German in his Facebook status.  The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) also reacted to the news.  “Albania’s PM Edi Rama has launched the legal process against Peter Tiede. To our delegation last week he said he “would not use criminal law against journalists but would continue to bring civil defamation cases against journalists in ‘extreme’ cases,” the ECPMF tweeted.  The centre’s legal advisor Flutura Kusari also reacted. “During our mission we found out that press freedom in Albania is deteriorating. Instead of filing lawsuits against journalists, PM Edi Rama should engage in improving press freedom in the country and stop calling journos trash bins,” she added.  A mission comprising seven well known media freedom organisations, among them the ECPMF, just left the capital after having called on politicians on all sides in Albania to stop harassing and denigrating journalists and media that they do not control. Rama met the delegation, which reported he had defended the use of offensive language towards journalists but had also agreed to not engage in the future. Meanwhile, Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj did not meet with the mission.  [post_title] => Albanian PM launches lawsuit against German journalist [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => albanian-pm-launches-lawsuit-against-german-journalist [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-06-26 13:48:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-06-26 11:48:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=142356 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [queried_object] => stdClass Object ( [term_id] => 28 [name] => News [slug] => news [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 28 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 0 [count] => 10364 [filter] => raw [cat_ID] => 28 [category_count] => 10364 [category_description] => [cat_name] => News [category_nicename] => news [category_parent] => 0 ) [queried_object_id] => 28 [post__not_in] => Array ( ) )

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