The Appeals Court of Durrës has again passed a verdict in favor of the Socialist government after intense political pressure. Today the Appeals Court decided to change the security measure for former Durrës Cadaster Director Liridon Pula, who during a previous pre-trial hearing had been sentenced to pre-trial detention. The Appeals Court now ruled that he can await his trial in freedom, with the “duty to report” regularly at a police station.
Pula’s case led to public outbursts of both Deputy Prime Minister Erion Braçe and Prime Minister Edi Rama, who stated in Parliament:
I am speaking about a criminal organization with Constitutional immunity, with legal immunity, about the criminal organization of super-corrupt prosecutors and judges who know that they won’t pass the vetting and work the whole day to grab what they can grab [kap ça të kapësh]. About them I’m talking.
And that case [from Durrës] that I brought here is one of hundreds of cases that happened regularly. And this is not to be ridiculed or ironized, because he [Liridon Pula] indeed was Director of the Cadaster, a Director of the Cadaster that doesn’t bow to crime. Because fortunately there are lot like him. […]
This is not the first time that the Durrës Appeals court bows to pressure from the Socialist government. In July 2019, the Appeal Court certified the election of Socialist mayoral candidate Valbona Sako. After the Court of First Instance refused to certify the results due to irregularities, Sako and former Durrës mayor Vangjush Dako met with President of the Court of Durrës, Judge Joana Qeleshi, in private, after which another judge certified the elections during an illegal second hearing. Sako then appealed the first case, which she had lost, at the Durrës Appeals Court, which claimed on the second verdict was valid, and the first one could be ignored.
In December 2017, three judges from the Durrës Appeals Court, Petrit Çeno, Petraq Dhimitri, and Klinton Spahiu, came under investigation for corruption. In February 2019, Çeno was dismissed by the Independent Qualification Commission. In September this year, the Prosecution of Serious Crimes sought 9.6 years imprisonment for the three judges.