The main component of the judicial reform, the vetting of all prosecutors and judges, is a process that should be both public and confidential. Whereas the proceedings of the vetting institutions should be publicly accessible to the media and the Albanian population to support the legitimacy of the vetting and its outcome, confidentiality of the internal process of information gathering should also be guaranteed to protect the privacy of the magistrates that are vetted.
This means that the vetting institutions, as well as the different state institutions supporting the vetting, should prevent leakage and the usage of the dossiers for political ends.
Unfortunately, even before the public hearings had started, statements and clarifying information related to personal assets of one of the magistrates that is being vetted, prosecutor Rovena Gashi, submitted exclusively to the Independent Qualification Commission (KPK), have ended up less than 48 hours later in the hands of no one else but a politician she prosecuted.
On March 9, the media outlet Alpenews published a series of three articles (1, 2, 3) referencing confidential documents that are part of the investigation of the vetting institutions, openly attacking the prosecutor by subjectively and selectively interpreting the information obtained.
Alpenews is owned by former PS deputy Alfred Peza, who himself is under investigation by the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office for hiding income, money laundering, and non-declaration of assets, based on an investigation by the ILDKPKI. His case is currently pending at the High Court.
The prosecutor starting the investigation and initially handling Peza’s case at the Prosecutor General’s Office was prosecutor Rovena Gashi, who then handed the case to the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office, the office responsible for investigating money laundering cases.
So, we find ourselves in a situation in which confidential information used for the vetting of a prosecutor ends up in the hands of the potential criminal she prosecuted, who then starts a campaign to slander her, and influence the vetting procedure.
It cannot be that the openness required of magistrates before the vetting institutions is weaponized by their opponents in business and politics, of which, certainly, there are many.
Exit asked the International Monitoring Operation (ONM) whether the leak of part of Gashi’s dossier was a threat to the objectivity and standards of the vetting process, to which the ONM responded:
The IMO [ONM] is familiar with the media publications on the topic that you have raised in your message. The starting point of your questions is that there has been a leak, allegedly from within the vetting process.
This is a conclusion that the IMO does not endorse without proper knowledge of the facts. The IMO International Observers are currently looking into the relevant facts of this matter and, if relevant, will take all appropriate action.