The Democratic Party has filed two defamation lawsuits against Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj.
The legal action comes after Veliaj made a number of allegations against the party, in particular its Chairman Lulzim Basha.
In the first lawsuit, the PD takes issues with three statements that Veliaj made. These include claims that:
- Lulzim Basha benefitted from four new villas during the period of the earthquake and COVID-19 pandemic;
- Has benefitted during a period of national disaster;
- Has constructed floors in a property without permission.
The PD reacted by saying that the “untruths were made in order to damage the reputation and image [of the party and Basha] intentionally” due to the fact Basha is in an oppposing political party to Veliaj. They said that Veliaj used these “defamatory statements to gain political credibility in front of citizens for themselves and for the Socialist Party”.
Veliaj also accused the DP of extorting money from businesses and was able to acquire four villas at a time when citizens were suffering the consequences of the earthquake.
A few days later, Veliaj again accused Basha of extorting businesses and also taking bribes to withdraw from protests.
In an electoral meeting in Farke, Veliaj said that Basha only sued him for some of his statements, not all.
“Why don’t you sue me for saying that he left the protest of Astir because he got a car from one of the contractor? He knows that Viktoria Invest gave him a EUR 130,000 car…and left the protest.”
Veliaj added he knows what properties Basha has taken to “shut up”.
Despite these allegations of wrong doing, it does not appear or has not been made public that Veliaj or the government are taking any legal steps to stop these incidents.
The PD responded by filing a second lawsuit against Veliaj.