Prosecution Office Bungled Investigation into Ardit Gjoklaj’s Death

The two people accused by the Prosecution Office of being responsible for the death of 17-year-old Ardit Gjoklaj have been declared innocent by the Court of Tirana. According to the Court, the Prosecution Office failed to properly investigate the place, time, and people involved in the Gjoklaj’s death, violating its Constitutional duty by mismanaging the investigation.

Last year, the Court of Tirana had indicated that the Tirana Prosecution had done only a selective investigation of his death.

Gjoklaj was killed in the night of August 7, 2016, as the result of blunt force trauma at the landfill of Sharra, at which he was illegally employed at the site, which was managed by concession holder 3R. 3R was owned by Edurim Teqja, head of the Socialist Party in Peqin.

Instead, the Prosecution Office went after Dëfrim Hakrama and Edmond Kallari. The Court of Tirana stated in its verdict:

“The analysis of written proofs and witness accounts show that other people have been responsible for the education and training of the employees and the implementation of technical safety regulations at this landfill.

But as long as these subjects or persons are not part of the criminal process that today is reviewed by the court, the latter cannot express itself as regards their responsibility.”

The Prosecution Office failed to find the person actually responsible of Gjoklaj’s murder. Security camera footage showed that Kallari hadn’t used his excavator in the area where Gjoklaj’s body was found, while supervisor Hakrama could not have failed to instruct Kallari in the security measures, as Kallari was employed illegally, just like Gjoklaj.

Nevertheless, the Prosecution Office insisted until the end that Kallari and Hakrama were responsible. 3R owner Edurim Teqja was never arrested.

The expert called by the court stated that it might have been possible that Gjoklaj had been killed elsewhere and that the body was moved to where it was found at a later time. However, the Prosecution Office failed to investigate this possibility.

In the months leading up to Gjoklaj’s death, Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj had heralded the Sharra landfill as a model company, where everyone worked with legal contracts and with social security. He explicitly invited people to apply for work. After Gjoklaj’s death, Veliaj “disappeared” from the media for several days.

The investigation was led by Petrit Fusha, a cousin of Shkëlqim Fusha, owner of government contractor Fusha shpk, responsible for many of the construction projects started under Mayor Veliaj.

Under Fusha’s direction, it now appears that the Prosecution Office has mismanaged the investigation to such an extent, that the person truly responsible for Gjoklaj’s death will most probably never be found.