Xhuvani, a politician and Socialist Party activist was shot and killed in a pre-election conflict in the central Albanian city. The incident took place in the presence of tens of police officers including two deputy directors. They had been summoned to the scene by members of the PD who said vote-buying activities were taking place.
The documents reveal that police found possible evidence that suggests electoral fraud was taking place. It also shows that despite this, no arrests were made.
They show that both the police and the prosecutors would have had access to evidence including a notebook labeled “payments”, full of names and phone numbers of citizens. A Mercedes found at the scene also included PS leaflets and a “Patronage form”.
The Patronage system is a controversial one whereby political parties allocate a Patron to every single eligible voter. Their job is to observe, monitor, and even try to influence people, and to report back to the party on the individual. This system was revealed just days before the election after a leak of 910,000 citizens’ personal data was revealed by the media. It included information on their Patron and details of what the patron had observed.
Despite this information being in the court documents, the Director of the State Police Ardi Veliu told the public via a press conference that there was no evidence of vote-buying or selling in connection to the murder.
Veliu claimed that the murder happened after a group of Democratic Party vigilantes “blocked the way of an SUV Mercedes”. They referred to this as “kidnapping”. He added that investigators found nothing in the vehicle that could be used for buying votes.
The leaked police report states:
“In the right front seat of this car, we found a brown handbag, in which we found… a notepad saying ‘Met Dafllaku payments’, with six pages of notes of names and ID numbers…[We found] an A4-format letter with three pages reading ‘patronage forms’ [and] five A4 sheets of paper with copies of ID cards and passports.”
Met Dafllaku is the nickname of the owner of the Mercedes, Mehmet Greca, a Socialist Party activist. He was released from custody following a police interview. Greca was previously arrested in the UK for possession of 51kg of cocaine.
When asked by BIRN about the documents and evidence found, the police said it wasn’t evidence of electoral fraud.
“The investigating group did not assess the evidence found and confiscated in the ML vehicle without plates as elements or indications that could serve to open a criminal investigation over offenses related to free, democratic and fair elections,” adding that as only EUR 100 was found in the car, this also supported their view that no vote-buying had taken place