From: Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
KLP Denounces Government Pressure on Vetting Institutions

Today, the High Prosecutorial Council (KLP) has denounced the Rama government’s attack on the independent judiciary and its attempt to intimidate the vetting institutions.

[T]he KLP has followed with interest the public declarations of the government leaders in relation to the legal procedures undertaken by the Prosecution and Court of First Instance in Durrës with regard to the determination of the security measure concerning the director of the Local Directorate of the Cadastral State Agency.

The Council deems the above-mentioned declarations to be such that they could prejudice the progress and conclusion of a judiciary process in progress and other judiciary procedures.

Last week, the Rama government has increased its pressure on the vetting institutions by demanding the dismissal of a prosecutor who filed a case against Durrës Cadaster Director Liridon Pula.

Durrës Prosecutor Arian Ndoja has filed charges against Pula another official, Lusiena Kola, for abuse of office in a case involving the registration of property in the Gjiri e Lalzit, a popular beachside location.

In Parliament, Prime Minister Edi Rama opened the attack on an unnamed “Durrës prosecutor”:

They say: “What is the vetting? Firing people from their jobs?” No, it is cleaning the system and creating a clean system. Then that clean system will then call them and say: these villas, houses, these betting bills from Monte Carlo… how did manage to have them? At the vetting commission if suffices not to justify these and you are out; the vetting commission’s job ends there […]

Then there are those like this Durrës prosecutor, who is a prosecutor today and works for criminal organizations and blackmails state employees. They say “arrest him.” You should learn that it’s neither the prime minister nor the government that arrests [people]. The justice arrests [people].

Following this statement, Deputy Prime Minister Erion Braçe attended the preliminary hearing during which Ndoja demanded that Pula remain in custody, a request granted by judge Besjana Garxena. In a press conference following the hearing, Braçe repeatedly accused the prosecutor, calling for his removal by the vetting institutions:

Of course I had to be here in order to hear the prosecution charges against a state employee and his defense […] After all what I heard for about one and a half hours, I doubt that all charges against him are not only not proven with facts, but there is a staggering craziness […]

It’s absurd that a state employee is put under pressure by the prosecution in this way. The Justice Reform must act firmly by removing these prosecutors and judges from the system.

When asked by journalists if prosecutor Arian Ndoja was the same one mentioned by PM Rama one day before, Braçe stated:

You should ask Rama about that […] The Justice Reform should clean this dirt, just think how many citizens are devastated by the dirt and crime in this system. The are some people who haven’t undergone the vetting, who must skip any possible queue and be vetted in order to end crimes against public interest and citizens in this county.

PM Rama subsequently doubled down:

He is a typical incarnation of the scum of the justice system, which has no chance of escaping the cleanup of the system! This scum commits criminal acts of injustice […] any injustice committed today by those who won’t pass the vetting will be prosecuted tomorrow, precisely as we have said since the beginning of the reform, as it is also written in the demands of the German Bundestag and as demanded by the EU on the road to the opening of accession negotiations. The justice absent for 30 years is slowly coming and won’t spare anyone.

This is not the first time that the Rama government has put pressure on the vetting institutions to convict certain members of the judiciary, which in turn undermines the pretence that the vetting is an independent and impartial disciplinary (and not a criminal) process.

In the case of Dritan Dajti, Minister of Interior Sandër Lleshaj stated:

There will be no peace until the day the High Court cancels this decision and the authors of this crime, wearing judges’ clothes, which offends the blood of officers fallen in duty, face the law and repercussions for what they have done.

While Minister of Justice Etilda Gjonaj called the decision “a corrupt affair and a breach of the procedural penal code.”

In both cases, the government clearly shows to have no respect for the independence of the judiciary, thus seriously threatening the success of the justice reform. A stable rule of law does not only depend on an independent and strong judiciary, but also on the ability of politicians to respect that. Especially as long as the vetting is going on, any attempt by the government to intimidate the vetting institutions may backfire terribly, as the cases pending at the European Court of Human Rights may eventually make clear.