Yesterday, President Ilir Meta has filed charges against Ardian Dvorani, Chair of the Justice Appointments Council (KED). President Meta accuses Dvorani of abuse of office and appropriation of a public title or office.
The actions and inactions of Mr Dvorani have led to a very serious consequence, namely the threatening of the legitimacy of the entire selection process of the new members of the Constitutional Court and have created a strong public debate that brings irreparable consequences for the well functioning of the justice system and a loss of trust of the public in the Constitutional Court and the implementation of the justice system reform. […] [F]rom all circumstances we deem that during his duty as Chair of the Justice Appointments Council, he has on purpose abuse the public office with which he is charged […].
Dvorani, who started his career in the judiciary under the communist dictatorship, is the last judge left in the High Court, and has been in office for more than five years beyond the end of his term, as a result of the ongoing justice reform.
The core of the charges are the actions of Dvorani and the KED around the sending of the lists of the candidates for the Constitutional Court to the President and Parliament, which led to a de facto unconstitutional situation, in which both President and Parliament were forced to elect (within the 30 day constitutional deadline) two candidates each, in violation of the rotation prescribed by the Constitution.
President Meta alleges that:
It is not the case that the KED, in a collegial manner, has taken a decision about the manner and time of the sending of the lists to the nominating organs [i.e., President and Parliament], but that this administrative action has been taken solely individually by the Chair of the Justice Appointments Council, who […] has as only function to sign the acts of verification, evaluation, and ranking and to convey those to the nominating organ.
The reality behind these (in)actions are unclear, because in violation of the law the KED has not published any minutes or audio recordings of the sessions on September 21 and November 7 at which these maters should have been discussed, as already suggested in a damning report by the National Ombudsman. The KED has a legal obligation to publish its minutes on the website of the High Court.
Furthermore, the KED published its decision on the ranking of the candidates in the Official Gazette, even though the KED decision ought to be published on the website of the High Court. President Ilir Meta claims that publication of a decision in the Official Gazette without a legal mandate, with the clear intent to steer (inter)national public opinion, is a clear instance of abuse of office.
In a public response, KED Chair Dvorani attacked President Meta’s “openly unconstitutional claim,” while stating that it will be up to the courts to verify his claims. Stating that he “has to respect the principles of transparency and public information,” he announced that he would make further statements on the issue at a later point in time.
The President’s charges do represents a further escalation of the institutional battle and constitutional crisis surrounding the new Constitutional Court, with no sight on a speedy resolution. It now depends on the General Prosecution Office, which is headed by Temporary General Prosecutor Arta Marku, to decide whether the charges will be taken up – yet another decision that will no doubt be political in nature.