Shullazi case stirs Serious Crimes Prosecution, while hearing is postponed

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 27, 2018 09:18

Shullazi case stirs Serious Crimes Prosecution, while hearing is postponed

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  • 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.

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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.”

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 27, 2018 09:18