News 04 Jul 12

Albania Courts Lenient Towards Corrupt Judges

Albanian courts continue to issue lenient verdicts in cases involving corruption in the judiciary, hobbling Albania’s fight against the phenomenon.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana
Judges in Tirana's Disctrict Court read verdict | Photo by : Hektor Pustina/AP

A court in the city of Fier earlier this week freed three suspects found guilty of a an attempt to bribe Albania’s Supreme Court.

Although prosecutors proved that the three defendants attempted to influence a verdict in a murder trial, they won’t serve time in prison after their sentences were suspended on humanitarian grounds.

The presiding judge suspended the sentences on the grounds that all three defendants had young children.

The three defendants tried to influence the Supreme Court trial of Vilson Millaraj, who had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for murder.

“From the interceptions [phone tapping] it emerged that two of the suspects were collecting huge sums of money to resolve the case in Millaraj’s favor,” prosecutors said in February.   

“The person promising to resolve the case in the Supreme Court, Agron Lumeshi, is a relative of the presiding judge [Gani Dizdari],” they noted.

Although the Supreme Court on May 11, 2011 upheld the sentence imposed on Millaraj, prosecutors maintain that the suspects had been informed that they were under surveillance and that they were notified of the court's ruling the day before it was issued.

Prosecutor’s believe the Supreme Court judges were tipped off too that the case was under investigation, prompting them to uphold the ruling. They have appealed the ruling against the three defendants.

The case against Dizdari’s nephew was one of the highest profile corruption cases involving Albania’s highest court, which has been under fire from the public and the media, accused of using dubious procedural grounds to close several corruption cases against government ministers.

Prosecutors in Albania are severely hampered in investigating judges because the latter have immunity under the law.

Albania’s General Prosecutor Ina Rama has called several times for a constitutional amendment to restrict the immunity of judges, in order to strengthen the fight against corruption in the judiciary.

Speaking before the law commission in parliament last week, Rama underlined that even in those few cases where they have been able to collect strong evidence and send corrupt judges and prosecutors to trial, courts have issued not guilty verdicts.

“There is a sort of corporatism between judges to protect each other and prosecutors [indicted for corruption],” Rama said. 

“They don’t view the case as an indictment against a judge or prosecutor but rather as an indictment against a friend or colleague,” she concluded.  

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Premium Selection

kosovo-s-thaci-seeks-new-peacemaker-image-08-24-2016
24 Aug 16

Kosovo’s Thaci Seeks New ‘Peacemaker’ Image

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, a wartime guerrilla leader, has been embracing reconciliation by commemorating murdered Serbs, but analysts question whether he is sincere or just trying to win international approval.

bosnian-serbs-divided-over-controversial-referendum-08-23-2016
24 Aug 16

Bosnian Serbs Divided over Controversial Referendum

Next month’s referendum in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska entity is seen by some Serbs as a move to defend their rights, but others claim it’s a waste of money staged only for political advantage.

19 Aug 16

Dacian Ciolos: Romania’s Technocratic PM

19 Aug 16

Sarajevo Siege Film Explores Legacy of Trauma

Latest News from the Balkans

24 Aug 16

Afghan Migrant Shot Dead in Serbia

24 Aug 16

Croatia Threatens to Arrest Vojislav Seselj

24 Aug 16

‘Game of Thrones’ Star to Visit Romania