From: Exit Staff
Opposition Accuses Government of Releasing Convicts to Intimidate Voters in Elections Gazmend Bardhi, Democratic Party General Secretary

The Democratic Party (PD) denounced Prime Minister Edi Rama for giving his government’s support to the release from prison of some of the most dangerous criminals.

In a press statement on Friday, PD General Secretary Gazmend Bardhi argued that released criminals secure votes for the ruling Socialist Party (PS) through intimidation of voters during elections.

Bardhi stated that this was the case with several murders convict in the last 3 years, including Endrit DokleLulzim Berisha, Genc Tafilit, Ilir Paja, Viktor Ymeri. Despite being initially sentenced for life or to 25 years in prison, they have been released earlier.

Good behavior in prison and employment contracts outside are widely used to account for criminals’ release. Lulzim Berisha was able to secure an employment contract from the Durres Municipality of Mayor Vangjush Dako before being released.

“No one has any doubts that the release from prison of organized crime bosses and the most dangerous murderers has been carried out with Edi Rama’s full knowledge,” Bardhi said.

“They have all worked inside and outside the prison to secure votes for the Socialist Party for keeping Edi Rama in power […] This is the reason they are being rewarded with illegal release from prison, as part of the agreement to co-govern with the organized crime,” he added.

In response to Minister of Justice Etilda Gjoni’s dismissal of a prison director and her request to the High Justice Council to dismiss the judge who recently released convict for life Endrit Dokle, Bardhi said this was a charade. He added that the government always reacts after convicts have been resealed, although Rama and Gjonaj have full knowledge long before the decision is taken.

Bardhi warned that another murder convict, Arben Grori, could be released soon.

Murder convicts released in the last 3 years

Endrit Dokle was released by Judge Enkeleda Hoxha last week. In 2017, the same judge released two other murder convicts mentioned by Bardhi – Genc Tafili and Ilir Paja.

Viktor Ymeri, a former member of a Vlora gang was released at the end of 2019. Lulzim Caka, leader of a Berat gang and convicted of five murders was released in early 2019.

Two other members of Durres gang, Lulzim Berisha and his brother-in-law Plaurent Dervishaj were charged with four murders. Berisha was released in 2016, six years earlier, after Durres Mayor Vangjush Dako offered him a job contract with the municipality. Dervishaj was never convicted.

Aldo Bare, leader of a gang in Lushnja was charged with five murders and sentenced to life in prison but in 2017 he was granted a retrial.

Dritan Dajti, convicted of killing four policemen, has his sentence reduced. He previously received four life sentences but after a retrial in February 2019, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and could therefore be eligible to apply for release in the same as Dokle.