News 24 Jul 15

EU Kosovo Mission Ex-Prosecutor Alleges ‘Intimidation’

A former EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo prosecutor who made claims of corruption said she has been threatened with criminal prosecution if she speaks publicly about her case against her ex-employers.

Petrit Collaku
BIRN
Pristina

Maria Bamieh. Photo: Majlinda Hoxha.

Former prosecutor Maria Bamieh, who has taken the EULEX rule-of-law mission to a British employment tribunal for alleged unfair dismissal, said on Thursday that her former employers were trying to intimidate her into silence over the allegations of corruption within the organisation which led to her losing her job.

The legal firm Bindmans, which is representing Bamieh at the London Employment Tribunal, said that EULEX had threatened her with prosecution if she discloses any details of her claim to outsiders.

Bamieh said this meant that EULEX was trying to ensure that her allegations would go unheard.

“These latest developments only serve to demonstrate the lengths to which the relevant powers will go to prevent my concerns from being openly discussed,” she was quoted as saying on Bindmans’ website.

Bindmans also alleged that EULEX asked the London Employment Tribunal for “privacy and anonymity orders over all remaining stages of the proceedings”, which the law firm said would make it impossible for media to report on the details of the case.

But EULEX rejected the allegations and said that according to British justice ministry guidelines on employment tribunals, “documents and statements must not be used for any purpose other than the conduct of the case” and should not be shown to people involved in the case, their lawyers or witnesses if relevant.

“There is a difference between the use of information in legal proceedings, which EULEX does not oppose, and a blanket release to the media, which is what EULEX opposes,” the mission’s spokesperson Besa Domi told BIRN on Friday.

“The mission feels that it is not appropriate or reasonable to release details of a claim which appears to quote confidential information about ongoing legal proceedings in Kosovo,” Domi added.

In October 2014, Bamieh, a British lawyer, accused her former EULEX colleague, Italian judge Francesco Florit, of taking a 300,000 euro bribe to clear a man accused of murder, as well as seeking another bribe in a corruption case against a Kosovo transport ministry official. Florit strongly denied the allegations.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini commissioned a report after Bamieh’s allegations were made public, to find out if there had been an attempted cover-up.

The report published in April concluded that the mission delayed dealing with the allegations because of what appeared to be administrative errors, but did not try to cover them up.

The next hearing at the London Employment Tribunal is due in September.

In a separate development on Thursday, Kosovo MPs voted for a resolution calling for EULEX’s work to be reviewed and alleged abuses within the mission investigated.

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