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‘Babale case’ protagonist arrested and released in Kosovo

‘Babale case’ protagonist arrested and released in Kosovo

TIRANA, Oct. 13 – Albert Veliu – the man who the Albanian prosecution is accusing of having staged the audio-surveillance alleging the brother of the country’s interior minister was involved in cannabis trafficking was arrested in Kosovo on Friday and

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President re-vetoes National Theatre bill

President re-vetoes National Theatre bill

TIRANA, Oct. 11 – Albania’s President Ilir Meta vetoed once more on Thursday the bill foreseeing the demolition of the National Theatre building, which the Socialist parliamentary majority approved for a second time on Sept. 20. In the announcement at

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The return of the ‘Babale case’

The return of the ‘Babale case’

Court approves arrest warrants for two people involved in Xhafaj audio-surveillance case The court in Albania accepted on Sunday the request by the Serious Crimes Prosecution to issue arrest warrants for two individuals involved in the audio-surveillance record made public

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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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TNT explodes outside Xhisiela Maloku’s house, she blames opposition

TNT explodes outside Xhisiela Maloku’s house, she blames opposition

TIRANA, Oct. 8 – In Albania, a TNT amount exploded at midnight in Fushë Krujë, in the courtyard of Xhisiela Maloku’s house, the 25-year-old former girlfriend of Rexhep Rraja, the son of Socialist MP Rrahman Rraja, who was arrested last

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Albania signs deal with FRONTEX to curb migration waves

Albania signs deal with FRONTEX to curb migration waves

TIRANA, Oct. 8 – Albania signed an agreement with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency FRONTEX for border management in context of the growing immigration. The agreement was signed by Albanian Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj, European Commissioner for Migration

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Armed clash with one dead in Bllok area highlights capital’s underground criminal activity

Armed clash with one dead in Bllok area highlights capital’s underground criminal activity

TIRANA, Oct. 8 – One person was killed and two more were injured on Thursday night in Tirana, at the main bars and restaurants crowded area known as Blloku, for reasons still unclear. Erivs Martinaj – a well-known figure for

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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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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 13 - Albert Veliu - the man who the Albanian prosecution is accusing of having staged the audio-surveillance alleging the brother of the country’s interior minister was involved in cannabis trafficking was arrested in Kosovo on Friday and then released by the court the following day.

In Prishtina, where Veliu is waiting after being arrested in Kosovo for illegally crossing the border, the court decided his protection pretense is valid and that he will remain at the asylum-seekers centre until an official extradition request arrives from Tirana.

Last week, the court in Albania accepted the Serious Crimes Prosecution’s request to issue arrest warrants for Veliu and Fredi Alizoti - who is accused of being the one who impersonated Agron Xhafaj, the minister of interior’s brother, and who is currently behind bars.

Alizoti has admitted he impersonated Agron, in return, according to him, of an amount of 200 thousand euros, that Veliu had told him Democratic Party MP Ervin Salianji would give them.

It has been also reported Alizoti stated during the first hearing, on June 1, and finally on September 27, in the presence of his lawyer, that Veliu had asked him to stage a conversation where he pretended to be Agron, the minister’s brother.

Jetmir Olldashi, the journalist who publicly admitted of having conducted the surveillance in context of his investigation of ties between drugs and politics in Vlora and having reached Veliu as a middle-man, has also been issued ‘obligation to appear in front of the court.’

All three are being accused of ‘false denunciation in cooperation.”

In a video-recording published on Tuesday night by DP MP Ervin Salianji in local media TV show, Alizoti is seen telling another, unidentified, person that he was accompanied by the Head of the State Police Ardi Veliu himself at the Serious Crimes Prosecution.

Alizoti said, in the video-recording, that Officer Veliu had tried to provoke him during the ride at the prosecution and that he’d asked him about his political affiliations.

So far, through a statement, the police has denied the involvement of its chief in any conversation with Alizoti. 

Investigations into the case are ongoing, while Prime Minister Edi Rama has said in interviews he’s put together a work team to find everyone who was involved even in the slightest in what he’s called “an attempt for coup d’etat.” 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 11 - Albania’s President Ilir Meta vetoed once more on Thursday the bill foreseeing the demolition of the National Theatre building, which the Socialist parliamentary majority approved for a second time on Sept. 20. 

In the announcement at the Presidency’s official webpage, it is stated that Meta decreed the return of the law “On the determination of a special procedure for the evaluation, negotiation and conclusion of the contract with object ‘The Design and realization of the urban project and the new building of the National Theatre” for review, in support of Article 85, point 1 and 93 of the Constitution. 

“The President of the Republic has reached the conclusion that the new law has not achieved to solve in its core none of the nine constitutional and legal issues made evident in the decree of the President of the Republic nr. 10849, dated 27.07.2018, although this decree results to have been approved fully by the parliament. Although it has tried to fulfill only one of the President’s constitutional findings which was related with the preferential and unfair treatment of a private subject, it results the Parliament did not manage to fully address the issue even through the new approved law,” the announcement read.

According to Meta, the bill continues to present constitutional violations and has only solved the issue of preferential treatment towards “Fusha Shpk” - the private company already contracted by the Socialist Party to build the new National Theatre building as part of a high-rise commercial complex - in the surface. 

“In its core, the law’s provisions still maintain discriminatory criteria which do not guarantee free competition, and, on the contrantry, a preferential treatment which limits participation in the competition is still evident,” the announcement further on stated.

The Socialist majority withdrew from the special bill proposed by it after encountering objections from the European Commission, which in its letter to the Albanian authorities emphasized that it encouraged them “to pursue compliance with EU public procurement principles and provide non-discriminatory access to the market.”

However, during its parliamentary meeting on Sept. 20, the majority failed to address all nine points mentioned the first time Meta vetoed the bill under the argument it was unconstitutional.

The first reason behind Meta’s initial decision to decree the return of the bill to parliament for re-evaluation was because it oversteps the principle of “equality before the law” and “citizens’ freedom of economic activity.”

The bill was also not congruent with the basic constitutional principles of “national identity” and “national heritage”, while also opposing the principles of the European Convention of Non-Material Cultural Heritage, endorsed in Paris in 2003.

Artists and citizens have been protesting since the beginning of February concerning this issue, with the opposition blaming the government time and time again of corrupt ties with the private company it has hired to build the new National Theatre and of “giving away” public land to the private subject unconstitutionally. 

Meanwhile, the government continues to support that the current NT building is in miserable condition and that it does not offer favorable working conditions for the actors and for the audience going to enjoy art there. 

 
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                    [post_content] => Court approves arrest warrants for two people involved in Xhafaj audio-surveillance case 

The court in Albania accepted on Sunday the request by the Serious Crimes Prosecution to issue arrest warrants for two individuals involved in the audio-surveillance record made public a few months ago, according to which the brother of Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj was recently involved in drug trafficking.

According to the prosecution, the entire audio-surveillance might have been staged and involved were Albert Veliu, who said he’d spoken with the minister’s brother and is known as ‘Witness X’ and Fredi Alizoti, who is suspected of having impersonated Xhafaj’s brother, Agron.

Jetmir Olldashi, the journalist who publicly admitted of having conducted the surveillance in context of his investigation of ties between drugs and politics in Vlora and having reached Veliu as a middle-man, has also been issued ‘obligation to appear in front of the court.’

Veliu is currently located in Kosovo, where he was arrested for illegally trespassing the border and where he has sought political asylum. All three are being accused of ‘false denunciation in cooperation.”

Head of the opposition’s Democratic Party Lulzim Basha reacted to the arrest through a tweet, saying “nothing more was expected by the prosecution Rama-Xhafaj-Marku-Prela.” 

According to Basha, the only reason Agron left to Italy to undergo his sentence there is so that he wouldn’t have to face the ongoing investigation of the case here.

Prime Minister Edi Rama said he hopes these two arrests are just the beginning of this “orchestrated masquerade.”

 

 

The prosecution’s evidence 

So far, local media has reported from the file the prosecution submitted to the court, that Alizoti has admitted he impersonated Agron, in return, according to him, of an amount of 200 thousand euros, that Veliu had told him they would receive from Democratic Party MP Ervin Salianji.

It has been also reported that the latter stated during the first hearing, on June 1, and finally on September 27, in the presence of his lawyer, that Veliu had asked him to stage a conversation where he pretended to be Agron, the minister’s brother.

The conversation, according to him, took place in a cafe opposite the one Agron was staying, and lasted three minutes. He added they had practiced a couple of days before the staging and that Veliu had instructed him what to say.

Alizoti confessed that before the conversation was made public, he had gone to the Democratic Party headquarters several times, where Veliu had met Salianji.

The prosecution included among its evidence transcripts of phone calls made by Alizoti, whose name has been under surveillance since May under the court’s orders.

Alizoti appears to have admitted at least three times in these phone calls that he impersonated Agron, while he has also shown disappointment for not receiving the promised amount - for which Veliu, from Kosovo, has told him to be patient. 

As for Veliu’s claims he met Agron in a cafe to ask him for help in sending a marijuana amount to Italy to make some extra money, the prosecution says Veliu and Agron have only had two phone calls of 20 and 29 seconds each respectively, but have never met. 

 

Video-recording of Alizoti initiates new round of accusations

In a video-recording published on Tuesday night by DP MP Ervin Salianji in local media TV show, Alizoti is seen telling another, unidentified, person that he was accompanied by the Head of the State Police Ardi Veliu himself at the Serious Crimes Prosecution.

According to Alizoti, this happened on the first, without mentioning a month, after he’d told the head of the Fier Police Department that he’d impersonated Agron. Alizoti said, in the video-recording, that Officer Veliu had tried to provoke him during the ride at the prosecution and that he’d asked him about his political affiliations.

Through a statement, the state police denied Ardi Veliu was ever in any kind of contact with Alizoti.

“The accompaniment of Alizoti was done in accordance with the order of the prosecutor of the case. This procedural action was made by the Local Police Directorate of Fier,” states the police statement.

In the video released, Alizoti also mentioned meeting a person named Taulant, who he claimed to have asked him to support the majority and offered him money. Though he does not mention his last name, it was interpreted by the media as the SP MP Taulant Balla. 

Referring to Alizot's conversation, Basha said that Rama has created a privately-owned state to fabricate and manipulate truths.

“When the state attacks its opponents, its journalists, its denunciations, its honorable policemen, its political opponents, to protect criminals and politicians related to crime, we are in the context of a mafia dictatorship,” Basha said. 

Rama, on Wednesday, said he’s raised a work-group to verify the entire issue and the ties between organized crime and state corruption.

“Albanians will get to know from start to finish, not just with institutions, but with names and surnames, who is involved in this coup d’etat conspiracy,” Rama said.

 

The Xhafaj case 

Initially, it was the DP that made the conversation that had developed between Veliu (called Conspirator X) and Agron public.

The transcript of the conversation insinuated an agreement to transport a quantity of marijuana to Italy between Agron and Veliu. 

Then Veliu himself appeared in an interview where he admitted having met Agron, talked to him, and that he was the one who helped him to transport the drugs.

Although Veliu’s statements were contradictory to begin with, more contradictory layers were added to the story when journalist Olldashi came forward and publicly accepted he was the one responsible for Veliu’s surveillance and his conversation with Agron, as he was conducting an investigation on the ties between drugs and politics in Vlora, where Agron was living.

The story was accompanied by strong controversy, opposition demands for minister Xhafaj to resign and accusations that he has been defending of a brother who had been arrested in Italy in 2002, and then convicted of participating in a criminal organization which was dealing with drug trafficking.

Agron declared that he had no ties with Veliu and that he’d been leading a calm life for a long time and left to Italy to undergo his punishment. 

 
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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. 8 - In Albania, a TNT amount exploded at midnight in Fushë Krujë, in the courtyard of Xhisiela Maloku’s house, the 25-year-old former girlfriend of Rexhep Rraja, the son of Socialist MP Rrahman Rraja, who was arrested last week under the charge of persecuting and violating Maloku.

According to Maloku herself, who spoke to local media after the incident, the TNT amount was small and did not cause any physical or material harm to Maloku’s relatives or her house. At least nine people have been taken by the police for interrogation.

Meanwhile, Maloku told authorities she was in her house at the moment of the explosion and that everyone was scared. She accused the opposition for the attack, saying "it is creating a political game" and that she does not feel threatened by the Rraja family.

She added she had rejected police protection earlier, but that she would accept it after Sunday’s attack.

Maloku reached the police to press charges against her former boyfriend in July, and withdrew them later. However, the case passed to the prosecution office. Maloku had reached the police accusing Rexhep, with whom she had had a long-lasting romantic relationship, for threats and violence against her several times.

In her previous declarations, she has accepted that she’s been forced to withdraw her charges out of fear of revenge on Rexhep’s side.

Rexhep was arrested last week in context of the hard evidence testifying he caused the signs of violence on Maloku’s body in a hotel room. 

However, in two recent interviews, after the episode gained wide public attention when former Fushe-Kruje police officer Emiljano Nuhu made a public testimony of the event through the opposition’s Democratic Party, Maloku denied that Rraja had exercised violence towards her.

According to her latest statements, she’d denounced Rexhep out of jealousy and her testimony was fake. 

However the forensic expertise on her wounds leave little place for doubt. The report showed she had signs of violence on her shoulders and cigarette burns on her thighs. It is precisely this forensic expertise that placed Rexhep behind bars, as well as an interception that took place on September 29 during the hearing between the Rexhep and Maloku in the prosecution, where Rexhep threatened her again. 

Former Fushe-Kruje officer Nuhu’s testimony unfolded an even thicker plot of the story. 

Nuhu said during the video-testimony the DP published that his was held at gunpoint by Rrahman, Rexhep’s father, while SP MP Taulant Balla and Kruja’s Mayor Artur Bushi were present. 

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. 

He has denied having any links to the story, or ever being present in the Fushe-Kruje police station, where Nuhu claims the entire event took place. 

Rrahman, on the other hand, has told local media that he does not plan to resign his MP mandate because of the scandal that overtook Albanian media last week and that the entire story is a fabrication from the DP. 

“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,” Rrahman told local media.

While being arrested, Rexhep, too, publicly warned Basha he’s lose on the upcoming elections, no matter what he’d do to win. 

 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-10-08 16:18:23
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 8 - Albania signed an agreement with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency FRONTEX for border management in context of the growing immigration.

The agreement was signed by Albanian Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj, European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos, and Austrian Minister of Interior Herbert Kick, whose country has the rotating EU presidency.

This is the first agreement of this kind that the EU signs with third countries.

"This is cornerstone for EU's international cooperation on the issue of border management. I hope it open the way for even greater cooperation with the entire Balkan region,” Avramopoulos said. 

The agreement allows FRONTEX to coordinate operational cooperation between EU member states and Albania in border management. FRONTEX can now interfere with the external borders of one or more neighboring states with Albania, including intervention in the Albanian territory in coordination with the authorities.

The agreement aims to strengthen Albania's cooperation with EU countries in the area of ​​border management, illegal migration and cross-border crime.

In addition to the big number of asylum seekers registered from Albania, a considerable part of whom have also tried illegal border-crossing, 2018 has also marked increased efforts by third-country nationals to use Albanian territory as a way to reach EU countries. In this context, border police representatives say they have increased control measures in an effort to curb any possible wave of refugees seeking to use Albania as a transit country.

According to Albanian police data, an average of ten migrants - mainly from Syria, but also Yemen, Iraq, Algeria, Libya and Pakistan - are detained in the country every 24 hours. The largest number of migrants is registered in Shkodra, a city close to the Montenegrin border that could lead migrants to EU countries like close-by Croatia.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 8 - One person was killed and two more were injured on Thursday night in Tirana, at the main bars and restaurants crowded area known as Blloku, for reasons still unclear.

Erivs Martinaj - a well-known figure for the Albanian police and justice system - was in the premises of the bar and was shot upon. 

Martinaj was injured along with Eljon Hato, the latter in critical condition, while Fabiol Gaxha, Martinaj’s bodyguard, took a bullet on the head, which instantly killed him.

Both Martinaj and Hato were arrested by the police in context of the case’s investigation, while Ervin Mata, 31 years old, Fabjol Alushi, 42 years old, and Merviol Bilo, 41 years old, are now wanted by the police. 

All three are suspected of being involved in the fight that led to Gaxha’s death. Bilo, a member of the Army’s Commando Force, is suspected to be the person who gunned down Gaxha.

Bilo simultaneously turned out to be the bodyguard of a famous Albanian singer - the assault against her being considered as a lead for what caused the armed clash between the groups. However, prosecutors have reason to believe the clash was at heart linked with unfinished business in the criminal activities between the groups.  

Martinaj was among the persons involved in a murder that occurred in a cafe on the outskirts of Tirana, near the road to Dajti, in November 2015.

Although the prosecution proposed a sentence of more than 20 years of imprisonment for Martinaj and his collaborators, the Tirana court dismissed the accusation of "premeditated murder in co-operation" by punishing the murder’s author and giving light sentences to Martinaj and two other persons with the justification that it was a murder that was born of an instant conflict.

Martinaj is currently running his own betting chain in Albania, among other private enterprises, while local media have reported that Hato was supposed to be in prison, from where,in 2014, he ordered the murder of a doctor in Shkodra. 

The details of the case are still unclear and subject to change as police is investigating the case for the underlying criminal activities of the bands. 

 
                    [post_title] => Armed clash with one dead in Bllok area highlights capital’s underground criminal activity
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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. 

 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-10-03 15:45:58
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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.”

 
                    [post_title] => Prosecution proposes 17-year-imprisonment for Emiljano Shullazi 
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            [post_date] => 2018-10-13 16:25:41
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            [post_content] => TIRANA, Oct. 13 - Albert Veliu - the man who the Albanian prosecution is accusing of having staged the audio-surveillance alleging the brother of the country’s interior minister was involved in cannabis trafficking was arrested in Kosovo on Friday and then released by the court the following day.

In Prishtina, where Veliu is waiting after being arrested in Kosovo for illegally crossing the border, the court decided his protection pretense is valid and that he will remain at the asylum-seekers centre until an official extradition request arrives from Tirana.

Last week, the court in Albania accepted the Serious Crimes Prosecution’s request to issue arrest warrants for Veliu and Fredi Alizoti - who is accused of being the one who impersonated Agron Xhafaj, the minister of interior’s brother, and who is currently behind bars.

Alizoti has admitted he impersonated Agron, in return, according to him, of an amount of 200 thousand euros, that Veliu had told him Democratic Party MP Ervin Salianji would give them.

It has been also reported Alizoti stated during the first hearing, on June 1, and finally on September 27, in the presence of his lawyer, that Veliu had asked him to stage a conversation where he pretended to be Agron, the minister’s brother.

Jetmir Olldashi, the journalist who publicly admitted of having conducted the surveillance in context of his investigation of ties between drugs and politics in Vlora and having reached Veliu as a middle-man, has also been issued ‘obligation to appear in front of the court.’

All three are being accused of ‘false denunciation in cooperation.”

In a video-recording published on Tuesday night by DP MP Ervin Salianji in local media TV show, Alizoti is seen telling another, unidentified, person that he was accompanied by the Head of the State Police Ardi Veliu himself at the Serious Crimes Prosecution.

Alizoti said, in the video-recording, that Officer Veliu had tried to provoke him during the ride at the prosecution and that he’d asked him about his political affiliations.

So far, through a statement, the police has denied the involvement of its chief in any conversation with Alizoti. 

Investigations into the case are ongoing, while Prime Minister Edi Rama has said in interviews he’s put together a work team to find everyone who was involved even in the slightest in what he’s called “an attempt for coup d’etat.” 

 
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