The company Albtek Energy, which received the concession for the construction of the waste incinerator in Elbasan six years ago, has sued the investigative journalist, Artan Rama for defamation.
Writing by Rama, published in portavendore.al, reports how, in 2016, the government of Prime Minister Edi Rama launched a second tender procedure in favour of the Albtek company. The plan was to build an incinerator that would convert waste to electricity.
His report expanded on a legal dispute between the company and the Energy Regulatory Authority, regarding the licensing of the Elbasan plant as a producer of electricity.
In the lawsuit filed by the Albtek company, the claims and allusions made in the article are unfounded. They took particular umbrage with the suggestion that the company won contracts and misused taxpayers money through favouritism from the Rama government.
” In the context of the article that has already received wide distribution, prejudicial statements are made, facts and allusions are constantly raised using terms such as: behind the scenes, abuse, problem, away from public attention, it was taking life, the rising alibi, the stick, the intervention, yes “Our money is ‘burned’, etc regarding the procedures of the two contracts that Albtek Energy sh.pk, has concluded with the institutions of the Albanian state regarding the incinerator of Elbasan, ” the indictment states.
Asked by BIRN, Rama said that he stands by the published article and that he will defend it in court.
“The lawsuit is the same as these lawsuits made fashionable by the business against journalists. The goal is for you to be scared and not write. It seems that they do not care much about what is written there, but after producing money in abusive ways, they try to either buy the journalist or force him to remain silent through such lawsuits, “Rama said.
Albtek Energy is a company established in July 2014, owned by Stela Gugallja with a capital of 100 thousand ALL (EUR 806). In December of that year, the company won a EUR 21.6 million contract from the Albanian government for the construction of the Elbasan incinerator. The government did not open a tender for such a project.
The company seeks compensation of 300,000 ALL (EUR 2420).
The Albanian government has been accused of favouring a group of related companies, which have so far won three concession contracts for the construction of incinerators, all without competition. To date, the incinerators are either not functioning or even built yet are benefiting from millions of government funding every month.
Just last week, BIRN was sued by Mirel Mertiri in relation to articles they published about the incinerator deal. He claims the article contains insulting allusions and labels that have damaged his reputation. He added that all the claims are unfounded as long as there is no decision by the authorities on whether to charge him or not. BIRN stands by the article and said they are ready to fight the matter in court.
Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) are lawsuits that are designed to censor, intimate, or silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defence until they abandon their opposition or criticism. They often have a little legal basis and are designed to exhaust the defendants financial capacity and pressure them into withdrawing the statement or article. They are considered to be abusive and a threat to media freedom.