Opposition leader says Tirana Prosecution charges against him are illegal

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 15, 2019 18:16

Opposition leader says Tirana Prosecution charges against him are illegal

Story Highlights

  • Basha called the prosecution allegations laughable and said Prime Minister Edi Rama cannot scare him to quit, in context of the opposition having resigned its parliamentary mandates and protesting for Rama’s resignation since February.

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TIRANA, June 15 -  Head of the opposition’s Democratic Party Lulzim Basha did not appear as a defendant to the Tirana Prosecution call that would charge him on the issue of the DP’s lobbying contracts in the US before and during the 2017 parliamentary election campaign, which were alleged of being illegal.

After calling the prosecution allegations laughable and saying that Prime Minister Edi Rama cannot scare him to quit, in context of the opposition protesting for Rama’s resignation since February, Basha addressed the prosecution with a letter saying charges against him are against the law.

“I don’t care about these accusations and political investigation. Edi Rama thinks he will scare me or make the opposition back off, but he will soon see I don't scare or withdraw. This absurd investigation has been under his sleeve for almost a year, without evidence or any fact against the Democratic Party. Now that he is desperate to diffuse attention from the political crisis and his cooperation with crime to manipulate the elections, Rama has decided to make up absurd accusations to distract the public,” Basha said.

Basha argued the prosecution has not presented to him the investigative findings which put him under charge as required by the law and said that until it does, he will not appear to court.

He said these are methods “similar to Putin and Maduro in order to shut their mouths and neutralize political opponents and destroy democracy,” but will only further “deepen the pit where Edi Rama has fallen and make his end inevitable.”

On Tuesday, the Democratic Party and a number of media also said that Interior Minister Sander Lleshaj met with Basha’s bodyguard and informed him the opposition leader’s life is in danger - a move which the opposition has called a way to try and blackmail him.

In a letter to Lleshaj, bearing the signature of the DP Secretary General Gazmend Bardhi, it was written that Lleshaj has violated any procedure and any institutional way of dealing with this issue.

According to the opposition, it is not the individual or his bodyguard who can address threats and protection against them, but the Guard of the Republic.

In the DP's letter to Lleshaj it is stated that taking into account the circumstances and legal violations in dealing with this issue, the suspicion that the real purpose of the meeting was the blackmail the head of opposition is reinforced.

The prosecution began verifying PD lobbying contracts with several US companies in November 2017 to clarify funding sources for these contracts and to see if the transactions were legal.

The issue surfaced when American lobbying firm ‘Muzin Capitol Partners’ supplemented with additional information its legally binding declarations for the Department of Justice and the left-oriented Mother Jones magazine wrote a lengthy report on it.

According to ‘Muzin’ statements, the entity has received three payments in the amount of $675,000 for its work in favor of the Democratic Party in 2017: the first payment on March 24, 2017 was made by the firm “Biniatta Trade LP “, worth $150,000, while the other two payments were made by the Democratic Party, one on March 27, for $25,000, and the other on June 9 for $500,000. The DP has only taken credit for one of the payments, coming from party resources.

The Democratic Party has also denied any connection with the “Biniatta Trade LP” firm, which is registered in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is owned by a chain of companies registered in Belize – a Central American state, known as a fiscal haven.

Meanwhile, the political deadlock the country is facing, as well as the opposition’s decision to boycott upcoming June 30 local elections - backed by President Ilir Meta’s decision to cancel them a week ago - has led to a chaotic escalation of relations between the country’s power sides.

After Meta announced he will be postponing elections date to maintain the country's democratic functionality, Rama vowed the elections will be held, while having the parliament start proceedings to remove Meta from office - a move that is illegitimate in the context of lack of a Constitutional Court.

Similarly, over the course of the last opposition protests, a number of DP officials have been escorted to the police for participation, causing more civil unrest.

Both sides have been criticized by the international monitoring forces for inciting unnecessary violence and compromising democracy in the country.


Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 15, 2019 18:16