Leader of the Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha has accused Temporary General Prosecutor Arta Marku and Head of Serious Crimes Prosecution Office Donika Prela of “covering up a criminal group”.
In a statement given to the media he said that closing the file shows that the Rama government is despairing to the point that it has forced the prosecution to do what it can to close the case of vote-buying in Dibra, which is part of the Albanian Electiongate.
“Their daring to attempt to close a case known across Europe through the Bild [wiretap] publications shows that Edi Rama’s despair has brought him to decide to push these cat’s-paws of his power, Arta Marku and Donika Prela, toward self-sacrifice, because their actions of today are criminal offences punishable by law.
[Marku and Prela] have abused their office in order to cover a grave criminal offence like the forming of a structured criminal group, including the most senior Socialist Party officials, most dangerous criminals in Albania, most senior police and ministry officials, in order to rig elections in Dibra.”
He added that the two prosecutors should be investigated and prosecuted for abuse of office, comparing them to North Macedonian prosecutor Katica Janeva who was arrested yesterday for corruption.
Earlier this year, a number of prosecution wiretaps were leaked to the media which provided evidence of collusion between Prime Minister Edi Rama, public official Arben Keshi, Sali Skura head of police station No.5 in Kamza, Damian Gjiknuri the at-the-time Minister of Infrastructure, election officials, and voters to rig the 2016 early local elections in Dibra county.
The taps had been in the possession of the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office for three years, yet not one person on them has had charges filed against them.
Instead, Marku has now decided to transfer the investigation to the Dibra Prosecution office which is headed by a close relative of one of the key suspects.
Dibra Prosecutor Esmerela Keshi is the wife of the first cousin of Arben Keshi who is one of the key persons identified on the taps. He is alleged to have been involved in vote buying and the intimidation of voters during the local elections in Dibra.
The case had previously been sent to the Dibra Prosecution Office who refused to accept it based on a number of conflicts of interest. Still, Marku has decided they must proceed with it, despite the multiple conflicts.
Marku was put into her position as “temporary” General Prosecutor, despite this position not being provided for under Albanian law. She later admitted she was not “temporary” which means technically she is the General Prosecutor, despite not being appointed in the necessary manner.
Prela caused controversy when she passed the vetting process despite hiding her income and failing to justify her assets. As other judges and prosecutors found themselves dismissed for lesser offences, Prela was able to pass the vetting process.
A considerable amount of her husband’s income was earned in violation of the law and she even admitted that he took cash payments totaling €50,000 over several years for undeclared employment.