News 07 Dec 12

Albania Fires Judge Accused of Freeing Cop-Killer

The High Council of Justice, HJC, on Friday fired Nertian Tabaku, a judge in the Durres district court, accused of freeing a murder suspect who later killed a police chief.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana

Tabaku stalled publication of the arguments on a previous murder case against a local gangster, Ilir Xhakja, for nearly 17 months, blocking the appeals process and thus enabling the defendant to go free.

“It’s unacceptable for the standards that we are trying to set to have cases like this,” said President Bujar Nishani, the chairman of the HJC.

An investigation by the HJC found that Tabaku had delayed publication of arguments in 60 other court cases as well.

He also been indicted by the Tirana prosecutor's office on charges of abuse of power.

Xhakja, who was released in 2011 after his incarceration ended, was re-arrested in September, suspected this time of murdering the police chief in  Shijak, Adem Tahiraj.   

The suspect was first arrested in 2007 for a homicide that took place in 2002. He was convicted in Tirana of murder and sentenced to 21 years in prison.

But the Supreme Court overturned the case on procedural ground and sent it for retrial in the District Court of Durres.

In February 2010, at the local court in Durres, Judge Tabaku found the defendant not guilty of murder and convicted him on a lesser charge of weapons possession.

Local prosecutors immediately appealed but the judge only published the arguments of the verdict after Tahiri’s murder, blocking the appeals process.   

According to police, Xhakja is suspected of having shot Tahiraj at roadblock in the village of Katund-Sukth on September 13. He was arrested a day later, following a manhunt by Interior Ministry Special Forces.  

Besides the murder charge from in 2011, Xhakja previously served two short sentences in 1995 and 1996 for battery and extortion.

He was also a suspect in a double homicide in 1996, and is believed to be involved in human and narcotics trafficking.

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