From: Ilmi Rehova
“Big Fish” Prosecutors Faced with Arta Marku

As we reported earlier, the Prosecution Office has requested the revocation of the parliamentary mandate of deputies Aqif Rakipi (PDIU) and Gledion Rehovica (LSI). This request to the Central Election Committee (KQZ) was made by prosecutor Rovena Gashi, chief of the decriminalization department, which has investigated them since February.

The Prosecution Office had taken the fingerprints of Rakipi and Rehovica and compared those with criminal databases from Italy and Switzerland, confirming that both deputies indeed had been previously convicted, something they failed to mention on their decriminalization self-declaration forms. This automatically leads to revocation of their mandates and allows the opening of criminal proceedings for fraud, which, according to Criminal Code art. 190 carries a prison sentence of 3–5  years.

Rehovica is currently also under investigation for active corruption during the recent parliamentary elections.

The other “big fish”

Except Rakipi and Rehovica, there are several other politicians and high officials under investigation by the prosecution.

  • Former Minister of Interior Affairs and former PS deputy Saimir Tahiri is investigated by the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office for passive corruption and collaborating with a criminal organization in drug trafficking.
  • In the same case Jaeld Çela, the former police director of Vlora; Gjergj Kohila, the chief of the organized crime crime sector of the Vlora police directorate; and Sokol Bode, the former head of the border police in Dhërmi have been under investigation. All have fled or are in hiding.
  • Durrës Mayor Vangjush Dako (PS) is under investigation after wiretaps from Kosovo indicated that he was involved with criminal organizations, corruption, and vote buying.
  • The Prosecution of Tirana is still continuing its investigation of the death of child laborer Ardit Gjoklaj on a landfill managed by the municipality, touted by Mayor Erion Veliaj (PS) as a “safe” working environment.
  • Former PS deputy Alfred Peza is under investigation of the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office for money laundering.
  • The company of the wife of Elbasan Mayor Qazim Sejdini (PS) is currently under investigation for involvement in drug trafficking, while Sejdini himself is under investigation for links with organized crime groups in Elbasan.
  • Former Kavaja Mayor Elvis Rroshi (PS) is under investigation for violation of the decriminalization law. Together with former PS chairman of Kavaja Gentian Daja he is also under investigation for appropriating public grounds on the seaside.

The arrival of Marku

In this context of many running and potentially explosive investigations into multiple prominent political figures, Marku was elected Temporary Prosecutor General on partizan and anti-constitutional grounds.

Marku has no relevant experience in large-scale investigations or running a prosecutor’s office, and her nomination has been tainted by her own professional past, starting under then Shkodra prosecutor general Ulsi Manja and being nominated now by Legal Affairs Commission chairman… Ulsi Manja.

Marku has interrupted her maternity leave, which has allowed her to stay home from work at the Prosecution in Shkodra for more than one and a half years, to take up her new position as Temporary Prosecutor General.

But it seems that she is losing not a single moment to impose radical changes in the Prosecution Office. In recent days, several media reported that Marku – against both the Constitution and laws regulating her office – is planning to replace many of the department heads in the Prosecution Office.

Considering her lack of experience in and actual working knowledge of the General Prosecution Office and Serious Crimes Prosecution Office, it appears that her overzealous interventions in the structure and organization of this judiciary institution have been decided hastily in the best case, and in the worst case had been already prepared before she arrived in office.

The list circulating in the media includes the replacement of the director of the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office, which is currently handling most of the “big fish” dossiers. The same holds for the chief of the decriminalization department, Rovena Gashi, who in the last year actively prosecuted multiple deputies and mayors for violations of the decriminalization law.

If these personnel changes – in violation of the Constitution and the laws of Albania – are indeed implemented, we will be certain of the political nature of her appointment and her subservience to Prime Minister Edi Rama and his government.