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Prime Minister collides with President Meta on Greece sea border deal

Prime Minister collides with President Meta on Greece sea border deal

TIRANA, Oct. 8 – Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Thursday evening that when negotiations with Greece on a new maritime border between the countries lead to an agreement, it will pass to parliament without waiting for the Constitutional

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Elbasan protesters clash with police, minors among them

Elbasan protesters clash with police, minors among them

TIRANA, Oct. 3 – Students and parents’ protest in Elbasan’s Mengel village on Tuesday demanding a new school after an earthquake demolished it last year was accompanied by physical clashes with the police, according to local media reporting from the

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Prosecution proposes 17-year-imprisonment for Emiljano Shullazi

Prosecution proposes 17-year-imprisonment for Emiljano Shullazi

TIRANA, Oct. 2 – The Serious Crimes Prosecution gave its pretense for the accused Emiljano Shullazi criminal group on Tuesday, proposing 17 years of imprisonment for Emiljano, 15 years for Gilmandon Dani, 11 years for Endrit Qyqan and Endrit Zela

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Police arrests Socialist MP’s son, while Maloku denies initial accusations against him

Police arrests Socialist MP’s son, while Maloku denies initial accusations against him

TIRANA, Oct. 1 – The Kruja court ordered on Sunday the arrest of the accused son of a Socialist Party MP Rexhep Raja after the forensic expertise showed he’d repeated violated his former girlfriend Xhisiela Maloku. The order was enforced

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Police arrest two Rinas border police officers, part of human trafficking ring

Police arrest two Rinas border police officers, part of human trafficking ring

TIRANA, Sept. 30 – Two border police officers at the Mother Teresa Airport were arrested on Saturday, while authorities also issued arrest warrants for five Macedonian citizens and another Albanian employee of an airport security company during the operation against a group

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Forensic expertise unveils signs of violence on Xhisiela Maloku’s body

Forensic expertise unveils signs of violence on Xhisiela Maloku’s body

TIRANA, Sept. 29 – The forensic expertise of Xhisiela Maloku, the girl who had denounced the violence towards her of Rexhep Rraja, son of Socialist MP Rrahman Rrahja, has found that she had indeed been burnt and kicked with strong

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Opposition wants anti-mafia law to strike economy’s oligarchs too

Opposition wants anti-mafia law to strike economy’s oligarchs too

TIRANA, Sept. 25 – Albania’s opposition Democratic Party presented on Monday its project aiming to extend the measures provided for the anti-mafia law to include the economic sector, to private persons and public officials involved in corrupt affairs, from Private

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Former police officer says Socialist government MPs held him at gunpoint

Former police officer says Socialist government MPs held him at gunpoint

TIRANA, Sept. 27 – Albania’s opposition Democratic Party published on Wednesday a video-testimony of former police officer in the Fushe-Kruje Police Department Emiljano Nuhu saying he was held at gunpoint by Socialist MPs Taulant Balla and Rrahman Rraja and Kruja’s Mayor

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Shullazi case stirs Serious Crimes Prosecution, while hearing is postponed

Shullazi case stirs Serious Crimes Prosecution, while hearing is postponed

TIRANA, Sept. 26 – The hearing scheduled to seek the imprisonment for Emiljano Shullazi and his cooperators was postponed on Wednesday after one of the defendants and his lawyer did not appear due to health issues, as stated during the

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Albania tops Europe’s list of first-time asylum seekers

Albania tops Europe’s list of first-time asylum seekers

TIRANA, Sept. 25 – Over the last twelve months, Albanians have, for the first time, marked the highest number of asylum seekers in report with the population, leaving behind even those who are fleeing from war in their home countries.

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 8 - Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Thursday evening that when negotiations with Greece on a new maritime border between the countries lead to an agreement, it will pass to parliament without waiting for the Constitutional Court to become functional.

Rama’s comments during a Vizion Plus TV show followed President Ilir Meta’s statements a day earlier, who stressed that it is important for such an agreement to be ratified in parliament at a time when Albania has a functioning Constitutional Court.

“Otherwise, this would not serve both countries’ best interests,” Meta told the Voice of America, adding he has made the point clear to Rama as well. 

Rama, however, called Meta’s words “an opinion” and said the parliament is sovereign at this point.

“If we reach a deal, of course it will go to parliament, while the Constitutional Court might not be able to judge today, but it is open. Whoever has any pretenses can register their pretense, can deposit the case and whenever it becomes functional, it can take over the case one more time,” Rama said.

However, cases of international agreements do not depend solely on the majority’s votes. The case constitutes “an international agreement in the name of the Republic of Albania” and, according to the special law approved in 2016, such agreements “can be signed by the Republic’s President or the Prime Minister, members of the Council of Ministers or any high functionary, in any case under the authorization of the President of the Republic,” showing clearly the president’s verdict is crucial.

Albania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Ditmir Bushati, for whom Meta said he’s had disagreements concerning the maritime border deal, also commented on Meta’s statements.

Bushati said the negotiations have not been finalized yet and that, until they do, the Albanian group will remain a team, including the president. 

“Once the technical work being conducted by the experts is finalized, the dossier will be submitted to the president, where the experts will make their final evaluation on the consistency of what has been achieved with the mandate the president has released on the issue,” Bushati said.

Other political figures also spoke against Rama’s stand on this issue and his comment on TV.

Former Minister of Justice Ylli Manjani said Rama refuses to recognize and apply the country’s constitution. 

Through a Facebook status, Manjani said one doesn’t need to be a judge, but simply have eyes on their forehead and a bit of attention to read article 131, point b of the constitution and understand “in what grave condition” the prime minister is. 

“The article says, the Constitutional Court decides on: a)..., b) incompatibility of international agreements before their ratification, c).... As it can easily be understood, the parliament cannot ratify the agreement with Greece unless the Constitutional Court gives its verdict IN ADVANCE. So, we cannot deposit complaints and judgment in the Constitutional Court post-fact, as the prime minister suggests,” Manjani wrote.

At the moment, the country’s constitutional court is blocked because only three out of its nine members were re-confirmed to duty at the end of the vetting process. It is unclear when the vacant positions will be filled, as the Council of Appointments in Justice, which is responsible for selecting the candidates in advance, is also lacking members. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 3 - Students and parents’ protest in Elbasan’s Mengel village on Tuesday demanding a new school after an earthquake demolished it last year was accompanied by physical clashes with the police, according to local media reporting from the ground.

The protest began on Monday around noon and continued throughout the day, with reports that children’s physical state worsened as the protest carried on, due to not eating, tiredness and alleged physical clashes with the police. 

The protesters - both children and parents - sat in the middle of the street and blocked the Elbasan-Librazhd road, creating a heavy traffic of about five kilometers of cars that could not pass.

Protest images and videos broadcasted by media in Albania showed crying children, while a couple of them even had blood on their faces and slight injuries.

Democratic Party MP Luciano Boci also attended the protest while the State Police, through an announcement, said it had informed Boci that the protest was illegal, as well as asked him to move. 

“State Police called on representatives of the illegal protest and the lawmaker of the Democratic Party political subject Luciano Boci to free the way, but without results for a relatively long time. Some of the adult protesters, misused by political subjects to stand behind the illegal rally, provoked and acted violently towards the police, which proceeded the necessary materials against them to the prosecution,” the police announcement read. 

The announcement also informed one 25-year-old citizen with the initials K.Gj. was accompanied to police headquarters for violently opposing police forces.

“The Elbasan police, taking advantage of the case, responsibly declares that the child, whose images have been broadcasted by a number of media claiming he was violated by police forces, has not been harmed in any moment by the police. The police calls on the area’s citizens not to use their children for rushed protests in order to avoid the increased danger or any incidents that may occur,” the announcement concludes.

According to the specialists, the school needs to be rebuilt its structures as it risks collapsing.

In such a situation students have been provided free transportation to city schools, but about 200 students have boycotted the government’s plan. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 2 - The Serious Crimes Prosecution gave its pretense for the accused Emiljano Shullazi criminal group on Tuesday, proposing 17 years of imprisonment for Emiljano, 15 years for Gilmandon Dani, 11 years for Endrit Qyqan and Endrit Zela and ten years for Blerim Shullazi. 

Although the accused were not present at the court under the claim they have fallen ill, strict court security measures were not absent, much like in the first hearing that was postponed last Wednesday, and police officers surrounded the premises from the early morning hours.

The Shullazi process has attracted a lot of attention after the replacement of the cases’ prosecutor, who is on a long-term sick leave, caused debate in the Serious Crimes Prosecution last week.

A group of ten prosecutors refused to participate in the draw that would decide who will replace their colleague Ened Nakuci, which was followed by the initiation of a disciplinary investigation against them ordered by Chief Prosecutor Arta Marku, while three prosecutors were transferred outside Tirana.

Emiljano Shullazi, a notorious underworld figure in Albania, is accused of a string of offenses, among which blackmailing businesses to pay large sums of money or handing over their properties for free during the last three years under the protection of the left-wing government and Prime Minister Edi Rama, according to the country’s opposition.

Shullazi has been mentioned by the US Embassy to Albania as one of the “big fish” that need to be caught by the reformed justice system. One day before the hearing that would seek his imprisonment, the embassy told the Voice of America the Albanian people deserve a justice system where police and prosecutors stay united against criminals and added it “supports the brave prosecutors who seek justice, even when there are risks involved.”

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 1 - The Kruja court ordered on Sunday the arrest of the accused son of a Socialist Party MP Rexhep Raja after the forensic expertise showed he’d repeated violated his former girlfriend Xhisiela Maloku.

The order was enforced by the police after former Kruje police officer Emiljano Nuhu denounced the case and alleged proceedings were hampered to protect Rexhep, who is now being held in police premises under official charges of persecution and violence toward his former girlfriend.

The violence exercised towards Maloku, as well as the initial charges pressed by her, happened in June, but did not gain public attention until the opposition’s Democratic Party published Nuhu’s interview, who also alleged SP MPs - Rahmen Rraja and Taulant Balla - held him at gunpoint to not complete his duty towards and investigate the charges and Rexhep. 

Rexhep is expected to face justice and receive the security measure against him on Wednesday, while later he will respond to the violence accusations which have been kept under the radar for over two months.

Maloku said the police did not register her denunciations and that when it finally did, she was again forced to withdraw them under the pressure of the aggressors near police facilities.

On Monday, civil society groups and activists protested in front of the parliament, condemning the violence against Maloku. 

The activists demanded from the parliament, the government and the police to apply the same laws to everyone regardless of the ties with power law violators may have.

With Rexhep’s arrest, Maloku was placed under police protection, out of fear of possible threats coming her way. 

However, in an interview on Monday night, Maloku denied being violated by Rexhep, saying she had pressed charges out of jealousy for his new relationship and that he had never been violent towards her.

As for the forensic expertise showing that Maloku had signs of violence and cigarette burns on her body, she said they were a normal part of their relationship.

The case was also gained strong political dimensions.

Rrahman Rraja - the Socialist Party MP whose son is on the spotlight - said on Monday that he does not plan to resign his MP candidate while, later, through a Facebook status, added he had not pressured the police and asked the prosecution to get to the end of the case. 

The opposition, on the other hand, accused the prosecution and government again on Monday of failing to do their job and protect their citizens. 

“The arrest just for show in exchange of the public opinion’s silence. The arrest of a ruthless rapist with the lightest charge, that of persecution, is the trick that Rama is using to protect the criminals who provide him with power in Kruja and Fushë Krujë,” Democratic Party MP Jorida Tabaku stated.

“The denunciation and prosecution of the accused were not closed by the police even though the denouncer insisted on withdrawing the charges. Within 24 hours there was a punitive reaction by suspending and prosecuting the police officer in the Prosecutor's Office who did not comply with law and duty. We reiterate that the State Police has not been intimidated by any party and by anyone and its actions have been fair and professional,” the ministry of interior reacted on Monday to the opposition’s accusations through deputy minister Romina Kuko. 

The ministry has highlighted that despite the withdrawal of charges by Maloku, i has brought the case to the prosecutor's office, has punished an employee, while for former subcommittee Nuhu did not fulfill the duties left by the prosecutor of the case.

 
                    [post_title] => Police arrests Socialist MP’s son, while Maloku denies initial accusations against him  
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 30 - Two border police officers at the Mother Teresa Airport were arrested on Saturday, while authorities also issued arrest warrants for five Macedonian citizens and another Albanian employee of an airport security company during the operation against a group that was dealing with illegal trafficking of persons to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The action that took place over Friday night and the early hours of Saturday morning is the second part of an operation that started in March of this year, leading to the arrest of 39 people.

The operation was conducted in cooperation among the State Police, Serious Crimes Prosecution and US partners, who said 12 Albanian and international citizens are now wanted.

“Meanwhile, following the investigation, it been made possible to identify and then arrest, on September 28, 2018 as associates in this structured criminal group, two police officers with border control duties and a security agent,” the police statement clarified.

Investigations into this case have shown that seven structured criminal groups operating in Albania, Bulgaria, Spain, France, the Dominican Republic, Italy, the United Kingdom, the US, Canada have enabled the smuggling of over 300 Albanian citizens towards countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

“For each person, 7,000 pounds were paid for the United Kingdom and 25,000 to 30,000 dollars for the US and Canada. Members of these criminal groups through active actions assisted Albanian citizens interested in illegally immigrating to the above-mentioned countries by falsifying travel documents and IDs of EU countries,” the statement concluded.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 29 - The forensic expertise of Xhisiela Maloku, the girl who had denounced the violence towards her of Rexhep Rraja, son of Socialist MP Rrahman Rrahja, has found that she had indeed been burnt and kicked with strong objects.

What local media reported after obtaining the medical documents was that Maloku was subjected to the expertise the same day she pressed charges against ex-boyfriend Rexhep in July, but the results were passed on the prosecution only on Thursday, after former police officer Emiljano Nuhu denounced the crime through the opposition’s Democratic Party.

The prosecution, which had started investigating the case, called on Friday the girl’s relatives, who had denounced Rexhep several times but had later withdrawn out of fear, as she claimed in the testimony made to the police in July.

Meanwhile, the Internal Affairs and Complaints Service (IACS) in the Interior Ministry has initiated an investigation into police actions in dealing with Maloku's case, as well as Nuhu’s statement that he was threatened at the police station's premises not to arrest the son of the Socialist MP by Rrahman, SP MP Taulant Balla and the Fushe Kruje Mayor Artur Bushi. 

On Friday evening, Deputy General Director of Police Aida Hajnaj said that after the Maloku’s denunciation at the Tirana police station 3, on the afternoon of July 21, the case was passed on  to the police station of Fushë Kruja the same day, where she was summoned by Judicial police officer Gentian Çitozi, who "did not act in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code for the reception of a citizen" and consequently "officer Çitozi was suspended by his superiors, in this case by the Chief of the police station and was referred to in the prosecution by the IACS.”

“On Monday, July 27, the Maloku case was referred to the prosecution. At this point, the case passed under the jurisdiction of the Prosecutor’s Office and the prosecution, now having the case under its jurisdiction, decided to pass on the proceeding that would carry out further actions to police office Emiljano Nuhu,” Hajnaj further said.

According to Hajnaj, in pursuing the prosecution’s orders, Nuhu had only applied four out of the 11 duties assigned to him and the interrogation of Rexhep, as he claimed, was not one of them.

“Despite her request to withdraw charges, the head of the Kruja Police Commissariat, assessing the importance of this denouncement and assessing the facts and other circumstances related to them, did not allow the interruption of the investigation. The state police has conducted all investigative actions and the case is under investigation by the prosecution,” Hajnaj concluded.

Earlier on Friday, the Head of the IACS Anila Trimi, speaking on the verifications made after Nuhu’s allegations, said that Rrahman, Balla and Bushi, accused of holding Nuhu at gunpoint for investigating Rexhep, were never at the Fushe-Kruje police station.

“The IACS is reviewing all other circumstances, allegations, as well as the legality of all acts or omissions of this former police officer, of persons related to him and the acts or omissions of his superiors,” Trimi said in her statement.

Meanwhile, in Tirana, during the weekend, human rights organizations reacted forcefully to the violence against Maloku. They voiced concern over the delay in the proceedings in her defense and over the non-arrest of the perpetrator because he is the son of a SP MP. 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-09-28 08:58:40
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 25 - Albania’s opposition Democratic Party presented on Monday its project aiming to extend the measures provided for the anti-mafia law to include the economic sector, to private persons and public officials involved in corrupt affairs, from Private Public Partnership projects to concessions or tenders.

According to DP leader Lulzim Basha, these drastic measures are necessary in situations where the links between power and crime have also affected the economy.

Following the launch of its initiative for the verification of politicians’ assets and ties with crime, the opposition announced its plans to extend the effects of the anti-mafia law, which will target organized crime, to include the economic sector and, more specifically, concessions or tenders which according to the opposition are granted or acquired in a corrupt manner.

During Monday’s parliamentary session, the opposition chose other premises to propose the legal and institutional mechanism for the identification, seizure and confiscation of the assets of private persons and public officials involved in criminal corrupt affairs, whether these are PPPs, concessions, permits or licenses.

“Entrepreneurship won’t see a good day if a handful of people benefit half of public funds in a non-transparent manner and corrupt acts for affairs that do not bring any public benefit,” Basha said.

To prove the necessity of such an intervention, DP MP Jorida Tabaku made an analysis of tenders, concessions and PPP contracts, where according to her one out of three was awarded without a contest.

In addition, MP Florion Mima presented the financial balance of the abuses that according to him have cost the public 2.2 billion ALL.

Summing up the essence of the legal changes introduced by MP Enkelejd Alibeaj, Basha said that as in the case of organized crime, all those who have profited from Albanian taxpayers' money through corruption will be subject to the same mechanism as judges and politicians. 

Firstly, the burden of proof will fall on the subjects of the law and not on the state. Same as with organized crime, it will belong to those that have been involved in these corrupt affairs to prove their innocence and legality of their assets,” Basha said. 

The opposition aims to put its initiative for discussion at the meetings it will undertake with citizens, with the promise that this law will come into effect as soon as the Democrats come to power.

On his part, Prime Minister Edi Rama reacted through a Twitter post.

Noting that on Monday Albania was listed among the international capital markets for the purchase of the Eurobond up to 500 million euros, he stressed that "this venture will succeed because the economy, the finances of governance are quite the opposite of what our lost opposition’s mirror of despair shows.”

 
                    [post_title] => Opposition wants anti-mafia law to strike economy’s oligarchs too
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                    [post_date] => 2018-09-28 08:48:50
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 27 - Albania’s opposition Democratic Party published on Wednesday a video-testimony of former police officer in the Fushe-Kruje Police Department Emiljano Nuhu saying he was held at gunpoint by Socialist MPs Taulant Balla and Rrahman Rraja and Kruja’s Mayor Artur Bushi.

In the video published by opposition leader Lulzim Basha for the media, Nuhu, in an interview with the journalist Basir Collaku, said that he was threatened by Rraja and his brother, in Balla’s and Bushi’s presence.

Further on, Nuhu alleged he was threatened to stop investigations on rape accusations against Rraja’s son, Rexhep.

“An unprotected girl was violated, raped, kidnapped and tortured systematically. It is a monstrous crime that deserves the most severe punishment. Above all, this is a state crime, so justice must come not only to inhumane sadist Rexhep Rraja, but also to those who gave state protection to the criminal: Rrahman Rraja, Artur Bushi and Taulant Balla, a bandit politician immersed in the world of crime,” Basha said.

According to Nuhu, different police stations in Fushe-Kruje had refused to take the girl’s charges out of fear of political persecution and that Rexhep, being interrogated by Nuhu, had called his father and within 30 minutes he’d arrived, accompanied by Balla and Bushi. 

So far, Rrahja and Balla have completely denied any accusation against them.

Rrahja told local media that he has never met Nuhu and that the accusations against him are made up. 

"My son had issues with a girl two years ago, they broke up and he dated another. The break up has been clarified in the police department. In fact, she made a statement two days after (then) Prime Minister Berisha made his Facebook post, saying that Rrahman Rraja's family is the most respected family in the Kruja district and that with these posts they want to reduce the dignity and integrity of this family,” Rrahja said.

Balla, on the other hand, said he has been in possession of Nuhu’s letter for two weeks now and called the confession a fake, calling it the second ‘Babale’ case. 

“Today I want you to denounce in front of you the shameful involvement of the DP in defamation and bombardment of the highest Socialist Party representatives. This mud accompanied by shameful acts that constitute a criminal offense, as in the case of Babale. Everything is being cooked inside the DP building,” Balla said.

In line with the two, Bushi has denied knowing Nuhu altogether and said he was not at that particular police station the date Nuhu claims and that security cameras can prove that.

“I don’t know the officer in question. I don’t know his name and I've never met. At the same time, it is not even the case that I have been in that police station, either alone, or with what the officer or former officer now claims.

On Thursday, Balla, who is also the head of the Socialist parliamentary group, filed criminal charges in the prosecution against Basha, accusing him of abuse of office and false denunciation, following Nuhu’s testimony. 

The girl in question, Xhisiela Maloku, also gave an interview with Albanian media, where she was in line with Rraja’s side of the story and said Nuhu’s testimony is “90 percent a lie.”

Meanwhile, Tirana Prosecution has begun investigation on Nuhu’s testimony. 

The prosecution has filed the sound and film material of Nuhu’s testimony, while the object of the investigation is to verify the circumstances of the testimony.

The Prosecution is also conducting preliminary actions to assess whether there are elements of a criminal offense. The investigation team is expected to observe the entry and exit register of the Kruja Police Department.

 
                    [post_title] => Former police officer says Socialist government MPs held him at gunpoint
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                    [post_date] => 2018-09-27 09:18:16
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 26 - The hearing scheduled to seek the imprisonment for Emiljano Shullazi and his cooperators was postponed on Wednesday after one of the defendants and his lawyer did not appear due to health issues, as stated during the opening. 

The head of the Serious Crimes Prosecution, accompanied by three other prosecutors, said the defendants’ absence was intentional. 

The Shullazi process has attracted a lot of attention after the replacement of the cases’ prosecutor, who is on a long-term sick leave, caused debate in the Serious Crimes Prosecution last week.

A group of ten prosecutors refused to participate in the draw that would decide who will replace their colleague Ened Nakuci, which was followed by the initiation of a disciplinary investigation against them ordered by Chief Prosecutor Arta Marku, while three prosecutors were transferred outside Tirana.

The prosecutors, in a letter made public on Friday, called the replacement procedure illegal by saying they were not notified on the meeting’s purpose and that "the draw, and the idea behind the creation of an investigative group of 4 prosecutors in the trial of a criminal case, came at a moment when the case at issue was at the stage of final discussions while the investigative groups should be created at the investigative stage and not at the trial stage, much less at the stage of final discussions.”

Moreover, the prosecutors’ letter claimed that prosecutor Besim Hajdarmataj had already expressed his will to represent the case in the competent court.

The prosecutors’ rejection was followed by a request from Marku to initiate a disciplinary investigation against the entire group.

“Prosecutors have acted in violation of the law that compels them to be part of the lot as long as they are prosecutors of that prosecution, thus acting in open contradiction with the constitutional obligation,” Marku said though a statement.

Marku further pointed out that she cannot sit back when state prosecutors refuse to exercise their constitutional and legal functions. 

“Any prosecutor who refuses to do their job will face disciplinary but also penal charges as appropriate,” Marku added.

On last week’s Thursday, Marku also ordered the transfer to lower prosecutions of three prosecutors - among them was Besim Hajdarmataj, head of the Serious Crimes Prosecution and part of the group investigating former Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri.

This decision was also valued as “illegal, punitive” and “completely violating the independence of magistrates by creating a dangerous precedent” by the prosecutors.

Majority lawmakers have spoken in Marku’s defence, calling the measure more than sensible in a situation like this.

The country’s opposition, on the other hand, accused Marku again of being Prime Minister Edi Rama’s “servant.”

“As we have warned, her role is to destroy the main investigations towards politicians linked with crime and bandits linked with politics,” head of the opposition Lulzim Basha said.

In this context, the heads of the opposition’s two parliamentary groups also placed criminal charges against Marku.

According to Marku’s announcement, none of her decision-making has hampered the investigations towards Tahiri or the Shullazi case.

Emiljano Shullazi, a notorious underworld figure in Albania, is accused of a string of offenses, among which blackmailing businesses to pay large sums of money or handing over their properties for free during the last three years under the protection of the left-wing government and Prime Minister Edi Rama, according to the country’s opposition.

Shullazi has been mentioned by the US Embassy to Albania as one of the “big fish” that need to be caught by the reformed justice system. One day before the hearing that would seek his imprisonment, the embassy told the Voice of America the Albanian people deserve a justice system where police and prosecutors stay united against criminals and added it “supports the brave prosecutors who seek justice, even when there are risks involved.” 

 
                    [post_title] => Shullazi case stirs Serious Crimes Prosecution, while hearing is postponed 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-09-25 09:00:29
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 25 - Over the last twelve months, Albanians have, for the first time, marked the highest number of asylum seekers in report with the population, leaving behind even those who are fleeing from war in their home countries.

This was reported by Albanian media after data published by Eurostat on the number of new applications over the last twelve months and according to the Albanian population as per the World Bank and calculations made by Monitor magazine.

Syria comes after Albania, with a rate of 4.7 applications over the last 12 months, while Georgia comes third, with 3.9 applications for the last 12 months. 

Iraq and Palestine, which also have a high number of asylum seekers per 1000 residents, recorded 1.2 and 1.1 applications respectively.

The top 30 countries with the highest number of asylum seekers are mainly countries at war or deep internal conflict, some African countries and countries currently facing strong economic crises, such as Turkey or Venezuela.

Concerning the absolute number of first-time asylum seekers in the European Union, 18,620 applications have been registered from Albania alone over the past 12 months, ranking seventh in the list of the 30 countries.

Syria tops the category with over 86,000 applications, Iraq follows with over 43,000, Afghanistan with over 36,000, Nigeria with over 29,000, Pakistan with over 25,000 and Eritrea with over 19,000.

However, taking into account these states’ high population number, the Albanian figures remain alarming according to population experts, although the number has been declining after it reached its peak in 2015 with over 60,000 applications.

During the first half of 2018, the total number of first-time asylum applications for Albanians was 8040. According to Eurostat statistics, 136,700 asylum seekers were registered for the first time in the second quarter of 2018 throughout the European Union. Compared to the first trimester, the number rose by four percent.

Meanwhile, Albania continues to be the European country with the highest number of asylum seekers in the EU. According to statistics published by Eurostat, in the second quarter of 2018, 3930 people applied for asylum for the first time, or 3% of the total asylum seekers in the European Union

France appears to be the country with the highest number of asylum seekers for the second trimester of 2018, with 38 percent of applications, or about 1495 applicants.
In the second place in terms of the number of applicants, unlike in the previous trimesters, Greece is ranked second with about 20 percent of asylum applications, or 800 applicants.

 
                    [post_title] => Albania tops Europe’s list of first-time asylum seekers 
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            [post_date] => 2018-10-08 10:50:50
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            [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 8 - Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Thursday evening that when negotiations with Greece on a new maritime border between the countries lead to an agreement, it will pass to parliament without waiting for the Constitutional Court to become functional.

Rama’s comments during a Vizion Plus TV show followed President Ilir Meta’s statements a day earlier, who stressed that it is important for such an agreement to be ratified in parliament at a time when Albania has a functioning Constitutional Court.

“Otherwise, this would not serve both countries’ best interests,” Meta told the Voice of America, adding he has made the point clear to Rama as well. 

Rama, however, called Meta’s words “an opinion” and said the parliament is sovereign at this point.

“If we reach a deal, of course it will go to parliament, while the Constitutional Court might not be able to judge today, but it is open. Whoever has any pretenses can register their pretense, can deposit the case and whenever it becomes functional, it can take over the case one more time,” Rama said.

However, cases of international agreements do not depend solely on the majority’s votes. The case constitutes “an international agreement in the name of the Republic of Albania” and, according to the special law approved in 2016, such agreements “can be signed by the Republic’s President or the Prime Minister, members of the Council of Ministers or any high functionary, in any case under the authorization of the President of the Republic,” showing clearly the president’s verdict is crucial.

Albania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Ditmir Bushati, for whom Meta said he’s had disagreements concerning the maritime border deal, also commented on Meta’s statements.

Bushati said the negotiations have not been finalized yet and that, until they do, the Albanian group will remain a team, including the president. 

“Once the technical work being conducted by the experts is finalized, the dossier will be submitted to the president, where the experts will make their final evaluation on the consistency of what has been achieved with the mandate the president has released on the issue,” Bushati said.

Other political figures also spoke against Rama’s stand on this issue and his comment on TV.

Former Minister of Justice Ylli Manjani said Rama refuses to recognize and apply the country’s constitution. 

Through a Facebook status, Manjani said one doesn’t need to be a judge, but simply have eyes on their forehead and a bit of attention to read article 131, point b of the constitution and understand “in what grave condition” the prime minister is. 

“The article says, the Constitutional Court decides on: a)..., b) incompatibility of international agreements before their ratification, c).... As it can easily be understood, the parliament cannot ratify the agreement with Greece unless the Constitutional Court gives its verdict IN ADVANCE. So, we cannot deposit complaints and judgment in the Constitutional Court post-fact, as the prime minister suggests,” Manjani wrote.

At the moment, the country’s constitutional court is blocked because only three out of its nine members were re-confirmed to duty at the end of the vetting process. It is unclear when the vacant positions will be filled, as the Council of Appointments in Justice, which is responsible for selecting the candidates in advance, is also lacking members. 

 
            [post_title] => Prime Minister collides with President Meta on Greece sea border deal 
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