Opposition leader Lulzim Basha stated he will appear before prosecutors only when their summons complies with the law.
On Thursday, three prosecutors issued an order for Basha to appear before them today, and be presented with charges of falsification of documents and money laundering.
The case related Democratic Party’s (PD) lobbying (read here and here) in the US ahead of the 2017 general elections. Basha and PD’s former Secretary General Arben Ristani and financial manager Ilir Dervishi will face criminal charges, according to prosecutors Ervin Karanxha, Kolë Hysenaj, and Gjergji Tako of the Tirana Prosecution Office.
Today Basha stated that the prosecution summons did not comply with legal requirements, as it did not include “a summary of the evidences resulting from the investigation.” He added that once the prosecutors follow the laws, he would be ready to comply with their order to appear. Basha said he was open to receive a second summons that would be in compliance with legal requirements.
In your summons, you have presented no evidence resulting from the investigations, thus not meeting the legal requirements. Whilst acknowledging my obligation to comply with the law, I ask the prosecution office to do the same.
The prosecution announced charges against Basha amidst a deepened political crisis in Albania, and nearly one and a half years after US magazine Mother Jones alleged that an offshore company controlled by Russians had sponsored the PD lobbying in US in order to destabilize Albania and the Balkans.
On the same day, Basha stated that prosecution charges were political and spearheaded by Prime Minister Edi Rama, in an attempt to silence the opposition and distract the public opinion from government’s criminal activities, mainly the wiretaps of the Albanian Electiongate.
“Albanians are now seeing the true face of the politicized prosecution of Edi Rama: an institution that protects Rama and other corrupt officials and works only to fight the political enemies of the regime,” Basha stated on Thursday.
General Secretary of the PD Gazmend Bardhi stated today that Prime Minister Edi Rama has ordered the head of the Tirana Prosecution Office Elizabeta Ymeraj to exert pressure on the case prosecutors, in order to have the police forcefully take Basha before them.