ECtHR Responds: No “Agreement” with Albanian Government, Biba’s Action “Inappropriate”

Responding to a request for comment by Exit, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) Press Unit has stated today that the ECtHR has refused an official request of the Rama government in 2014 to adjourn cases concerning property restitution against the Albanian state.

An official request to adjourn cases concerning restitution of property was made on [June 15, 2014] in the context of a meeting between the authorities of the European Court and the Albanian authorities. This request met with […] outright refusal. In particular, any such decision fell within the competence of the Chamber before which the cases were pending and could not be taken by the President of the Court. Moreover such a request could only be examined in accordance with normal procedural rules.

On May 9, 2016, Prime Minister Edi Rama claimed in Parliament that he concluded an agreement with the ECtHR in Strasbourg. The response of the ECtHR now shows that Prime Minister Rama misled the Albanian Parliament:

There has therefore not been, nor could there have been, any “agreement” between the European Court of Human Rights and Albania as regards the possible adjournment of the cases in question.

Yesterday, Exit was the first to break the news that on the same date, June 9, 2014, Central Election Commission (KQZ) Deputy Chairman Denar Biba met with ECtHR judge Ledi Bianku at the request of General Secretary of the Council of Ministers Engjëll Agaçi to pressure him to adjourn the property cases, suggesting that he otherwise would remain without work after his term ended and he returned to Albania.

Yesterday Biba publicly confirmed the meeting with Bianku had taken place, but he also claimed that no “illegal intervention” had taken place.

In its statement to Exit, the ECtHR however confirms that Bianku reported the meeting with Biba  to the former and current President of the Court as “inappropriate”:

In 2014 an official close to the Albanian Government (Mr. Denar Biba) contacted Mr. Ledi Bianku, judge in respect of Albania, requesting that the Court adjourn its examination of cases concerning restitution of property. Judge Bianku indicated to this person that such an approach was inappropriate and immediately informed Dean Spielmann, President of the European Court at that time. He subsequently also informed the current President of the Court, Guido Raimondi, as soon as the latter was elected.

The ECtHR statement describes Biba as an “official close to the Albanian Government,” even though Biba is supposed to be an impartial state official responsible for the fair administration of the elections.

In brief: Not only does the ECtHR statement show that Prime Minister Rama lied to Parliament about an “agreement” with the Court in 2016, it also shows that Biba did have an “inappropriate” conversation with Bianku.