The Justice Reform, acclaimed as the panacea of all of Albania’s ills, and the consequent “vetting” – now become a contagious phenomenon that extends from judges to policemen, to coastal property and soon to other Albanian categories, as well – are beginning to show their true and disastrous nature.
The latest news is that the Serious Crimes Prosecutor, the one that so far has investigated (sometimes even with reasonable success) drug trafficking, has declared she is legally incompetent to work many dozens of dossiers related drug trafficking investigations. As a result, she chose to send the dossiers to the competent local prosecution offices.
Exit has repeatedly warned that this phenomenon was imminent, yet no international voice considered the subject worthy of note.
The fact is that, along with the much acclaimed Justice Reform, a rule contained in the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (one of those laws passed with a simple majority, not discussed with the opposition, and in open violation of the political consensus promised by the international envoys) establishes that all crimes that are not corruption or perpetrated by a “criminal structured group,” are the responsibility of local prosecutors, while a national independent super-prosecution deals with corruption offences (but not those of abuse of office).
Meanwhile, the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office – which for more than ten years has been laboriously learning how to balance environmental interceptions, international investigations, extraditions, exchange of evidence with foreign prosecutors and so on – is effectively suppressed by a Justice Reform that came into force even before it was able to create the bodies necessary for its implementation.
As a result of the Criminal Procedure Code amendments, local prosecutors are now granted automatic “territorial competence” regarding drug trafficking – even though they aren’t equipped with nor the staff, nor the professional competence necessary to counter drug trafficking. Furthermore, the latter is almost never classified as operated by a “structured criminal group” because a group being defined as such requires the repetition of the same crime by three or more people in association with each other.
The reformed Albanian jurisprudence says that drug trafficking can be investigated and combated by local prosecutors, many of whom deal with less than a dozen cases per year, obviously not always successful in court. It is very likely that, from now on, nearly all drug trafficking cases will be investigated by local prosecutors, seeing as, both judges and attorneys can easily challenge the existence of the repetition of the crime, with the risk of the direct acquittal of the defendants.
The most obvious example is the dossier on the 615 kgs of Colombian cocaine hidden inside a banana container and confiscated in Maminas a few weeks ago.
A drug shipment of this size – valued by the police at $180 million dollars – obviously requires, in addition to political protection, a consolidated group of financers and distribution networks. Consequently, it would be relatively easy for this case to be prosecuted as one authored by a “structured criminal group,” yet the reality is very different.
In fact, to date, the only people under investigation for this affair are the owner and administrator of the company that had ordered the banana shipment, as well as the unfortunate driver assigned to transport the shipment from the Durrës port to the Maminas warehouse, whose involvement in this whole matter was very likely entirely accidental.
This already excludes one of the two elements needed to classify this case as the work of a “structured criminal group.” Meanwhile, the second element – the repetition of the same crime – could only be present if one knew of another container of drugs trafficked by the same persons. It does not matter that the drugs were packaged and tagged with numerous different coded labels indicating its intended destination. It doesn’t even matter that the same importer had been reported in the past for a similar crime committed in South America, since the dossier never arrived in Albania, so, evidently, his record must be clean.
And so, the 615 kg of cocaine dossier was transferred to the Durrës Prosecution Office that, in addition to not having much experience in international investigations, and is headed by an already infamous prosecutor under the thumb of an unconstitutionally elected Temporary General Prosecutor.
The banana cocaine dossier will soon be forgotten, lost in a swamp of incompetence and lack of willpower, but to the full satisfaction of those many political characters who have financed, managed and protected the purchase and transportation of that shipment.
What will lose all its credibility will be the Justice Reform, poisoned from the beginning by the giddiness of the Socialist government to impose it via a simple majority, desperately supported by a “structured diplomatic group,” that is consistently delegitimized and disgraced in front of the public, but that has succeeded, in its absolute self-referentiality, to impose and to support in front of the whole world, not only a deliberately misguided reform, but also the criminal group that kept waving it like a club against a not entirely blameless opposition.
Now the size of the disaster lies in front of anyone who is willing to see it. Albanian justice is fundamentally stuck, and, somehow, even less credible than before. But, if until yesterday we could at least hope for the intervention of some international body, some embassy, some truly friendly government, today, in the eyes of the Albanian people, now intimately familiar with the true nature of its political leadership, every embassy seems to be, at best, willfully ignorant, and, at worst, an accomplice of the drug traffickers.
The only consolation, or rather the only alibi, is that Albanians are increasingly eager to leave the country for Europe or America. Now, however, America, Europe and all its Member States are no longer lifeboats for collective rescue, but rather mere individual safe havens.
As they are for Africans, Syrians and Afghans.