This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al
By Roland Qafoku
The arrest of 12 officials and 11 others who have been declared wanted in the municipality of Lezha, is one of the biggest blows recently delivered by police and Albanian justice system. We call it a blow, because this phenomenon which was quickly and widely spread after 1990, turned into a “normal” criminal activity of scary proportions. Agricultural land or sand land, pastures or forests, mountain peaks, valleys, cataracts, waterfalls and parts of lakes have turned into private property in the past 28 years. Many have managed to steal and rob them. The irony of all this is that not only have they not been handcuffed, but they haven’t even been given a slap on the hand. This type of “sport” turned into a national race, where the most dexterous, the strongest and the fastest managed to steal, rob, forge and abuse in order to become great owners of lands and posses lots of money without inheriting anything and without breaking a sweat. Serious studies show that the land and the way it has been abused with it is the main reason why Albania makes steps backwards, instead of advancing. Land and the way it has been abused with it has prevented Albania from becoming an EU member country and prevented it from prospering. Instead, these things have only permitted it to have the sorts of crime levels that it has today. This is why the operation conducted by Albanian police and prosecution in the municipality of Lezha should be praised and no political discourse must be made or intervene in this process, which is the biggest one in the past 28 years.
THE BIG BLOW
Today we can say that this was a big blow delivered by the justice system, but what leaves us with a bitter taste is the fact that it’s true that we have delivered a big blow, but the people who were arrested represent small fishes. Along with the lands’ mob, part of the criminal proceeds in our country is also the drug mob, the prostitution mob, the mob smuggling illegal refugees and the mob dealing in all of those areas where the crime has spread like blood vessels in the human body. However, amid all these types of mobs, the lands’ mob is the one which has caused the biggest damages to this country.
There’s no room for melancholy. If justice strikes late, this doesn’t mean that it has made a mistake. The investigation will show if the officials of the municipality of Lezha were guilty or not. However, this whole process is surrounded by doubt and question marks. The big question that arises is this one: Why did justice start with the municipality of Lezha? Why did it not start with other municipalities? Why did it not start in other more important municipalities which are more problematic in terms of land properties than the municipality of Lezha? From 1992 onwards, the municipality of Durres, Vlora, Himara, Kavaja, Elbasan have often been part of media reports and reports issued by the High State Audit for abuses with lands and properties. Why didn’t the operation start in these municipalities, but instead, it started in Lezha? Is this operation aiming to retaliate? All of these questions need answers.
NO ARRESTS SHOULD BE MADE TO PRESERVE POLITICAL BALANCES
If this operation ends with this, then this blow which has been delivered will be a failed one. It cannot be considered a blow if the justice system arrests a mayor of the opposition. We’re witnesses of the fact that many mayors who have committed urban massacres, continue to show off for crimes which can be easily considered as crimes against humanity for Albanian people. If authorities target a socialist mayor next and this puts an end to everything, this would also be a real disgrace of this majority. The operation that has started needs to continue without making political selections. The law should strike with the same force, be them leftists or rightists.
IF HANDS SHAKE, HANDCUFFS SHAKE TOO
It looks like the time of fear has come. Information coming in shows that all of those who have abused are scared. Every official who works in land registry offices has started to take precautionary measures and it would not come as a surprise if this operation turns into a nationwide operation to make justice.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy