On Tuesday, the Special Anti-corruption Prosecution Office refused to investigate vote rigging in the Dibra local election in 2016.
The case, known as “Dossier 184”, is part of the Albanian Electiongate, in which officials of the ruling Socialist Party are alleged to have colluded with criminal organizations to rig general elections in 2017 and an early local election in Dibra in 2016.
The SPAK was formed to fight corruption and crimes of the highest officials in Albania, as well as organized crime.
In August 2019, three years after investigations started at the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office headed by Donika Prela, Temporary General Prosecutor Arta Marku decided to demote the investigation to the regional Dibra Prosecution Office. They claimed that the case did not involve any “structured criminal group” and did fall under their competence.
Dibra prosecutors initially refused to take up the investigation, and sent it back, allegedly citing “conflicting areas of competence”, the fact that they are acquaintances with some suspects from the same relatively small city, and small number of prosecutors. Moreover, the Dibra Prosecution Office was headed by a close relative of one of the key suspects under investigation.
It was Temporary General Prosecutor Arta Marku who finally decided that the Dibra Prosecution Office should continue with the investigation despite the conflicts of interest.
In January, three days after the opposition asked prosecutors on the progress of investigations, Dibra prosecutors sent the file to the newly formed SPAK after they qualified it as a case involving “structured criminal groups”.
However, the office headed by Prosecutor Arben Kraja refused to take the case, arguing that since investigations were transferred by Arta Marku to Dibra prosecutors, no new evidence was found to show the existence of a criminal group, hence sending the case to SPAK was not justified.