Llalla Fights Back: Lu Put Pressure on Prosecution to Drop Bankers Case

In response today’s accusation of US Ambassador Lu that he was sabotaging the judicial reform, General Prosecutor Adriatik Llalla has held a press conference, in which he stated that Ambassador Lu’s accusations were a reaction to a letter to President Bujar Nishani and Speaker of Parliament Ilir Meta sent earlier today by Llalla.

The General Prosecution Office has found itself today under an open and unprecedented attack by the current [US] ambassador in Tirana, Mr Donald Lu, in relation to the institutional positions regarding the judicial reform and its candidacies for members of the Council of Judicial Nominations [KED]. […]

With regard to the judicial reform, the General Prosecution Office and prosecutors have supported since the start the need for reforming the system. In both its official and public opinions, the prosecution office has identified problems in the constitutional and other legal drafts, concerning which it has expressed its principled and legally motivated positions. It is worth emphasising that such positions have received the full support in the Venice Commission opinions, which, as it is now known, has rejected a considerable part of the drafts proposed by foreign experts, publicly supported by Ambassador Lu.

With regard to the procedure for naming the candidates for KED members, we invite Mr Lu and his experts to review the pertinent law about the criteria regarding the members of this institution. It is very important that ambassador Lu reads the official version, both in Albanian and in English. […]

In the letter to President Nishani and Speaker Meta Chief Prosecutor Llalla complained about the pressure exerted by the US Embassy on the prosecution of Fier to stop the investigation of environmental damages caused by Bankers Petroleum, one of the largest foreign companies operating in Albania. Moreover, the letter also states that Llalla himself, and several other prosecutors, including the Director of the Decriminalization Department and a member of the KED, have been the target of the visa ban issued by the US Embassy last week.

I inform you that the General Prosecution of the Republic has recently found itself under open pressure from the US Embassy in Albania.

Through a very undiplomatic move, the diplomatic visa of the General Prosecutor has been cancelled, as well as those of several senior prosecutors, which had been issued by the same embassy following the regulations set by their government.

In the assessment of the General Prosecution Office, this move […] has several motivations, which are related to personal positions and benefits by the Ambassador of the United States, Mr Donald Lu. […]

The most flagrant case, which has been documented by an official letter Mr. Lu sent to me, […] regards the direct intervention of the US Embassy in Tirana in the investigation that the Fier Prosecution Office has started against the oil company Bankers Petroleum. This company was accused by the media and residents of the area where it is active, that it has caused irreparable harm to their properties and health. In this case, Ambassador Lu has requested, in violation of all kind of diplomatic and legal standards, to stop the investigation, otherwise there will be direct consequences to the General Prosecutor. […]