Unlawful surveillance affair, government launches strong criticism against prosecution and the court

Unlawful surveillance affair, government launches strong criticism against prosecution and the court

Tirana, 9 June 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

In Albania, political tension has mounted even more following declarations issued in the recent hours in relation to the so called scandal of surveillance made by police to the citizens.

After the prosecution ordered the seizure of the detector which was brought by the Italian government, State Police refused to execute it and made it disappear.

This led to a continuation of the probe by the Prosecution, which demanded to the court to suspend from duty Police Commissioner Haki Cako. The court granted this request and he was suspended. Cako was replaced by Rebani Jaupaj. But this story doesn’t end here.

Albanian politicians often say that they do not comment the court decisions. This time, as it has happened before, the attack against the court was even more aggressive.

The Prime Minister and minister of Interior have issued serious accusations against judges by labeling them as rapists and murderers.

They have also attacked Prosecution, by saying that this institution is preventing the reform in the justice system.

This was the first time that the left wing government attacks General Attorney Adriatik Llalla so openly. Meanwhile, Llalla was elected by joining votes with the previous right wing government.

Rama’s serious declarations and those of his minister, Saimir Tahiri are seen by prosecution officials as unacceptable and as an obstruction in their work. They say that the government is putting pressure on them, because high ranking officials are being investigated.

Prosecution sources say that they’re investigating not only Police Commissioner Cako, but also high government officials, meaning Interior minister Tahiri and perhaps higher instances.

“Prosecution of Tirana continues to investigate in order to prove if there are also other officials involved in the unlawful activity of surveillance”.

Rama addresses serious accusations against judges and SCJ

The first critics were launched by Prime Minister Rama. He attacked judge Arian Aliaj, by using insults against him. After accusing him of being a corrupt judge, Rama also attacked the Supreme Council of Justice. The PM also launches serious accusations. He considers the judge “a hired killer” and accused him of releasing murderers and rapists from prisons.

Tahiri complements Rama by launching serious accusations

Minister of Interior, Saimir Tahiri enters in family details when he launches accusations against judges. He attacked the Tirana District Court chief justice, Fatri Islami for what he considers to be a scandal. According to him Islami “is entirely tied with Sali Berisha’s family and he has received his post as a political reward”. Tahiri didn’t spare his accusations even for judge Arjan Aliaj, who issued the ruling. He accused him of releasing from prison a rapist and a person who was accused of a murder attempt. Meanwhile, he makes lowly accusations when he says that judge Arian Aliaj is tied to Berisha not only by the birth place, but he has also family ties with him and he has been appointed as a “political soldier”.

SCJ considers Rama’s and Tahiri’s declarations outrageous

The Supreme Council of Justice has criticized the government’s declarations.

“The Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior used an indecent arsenal of words against a judge, because his only “mistake” was that while doing his job, he had granted the prosecutor’s request of suspending the Police Commissioner from duty”, SCJ says with a dosage of irony.

“This reaction, followed by an inappropriate vocabulary, when articulated by a Prime Minister and an Interior minister, is an open threat not only against a judge, but a threat against the entire body of judges”, SCJ says.

“Such declarations conveyed with such intensity in an inappropriate moment for the phase of the reform in the justice system, indicate that in spite of expectations, this reform can be a fake reform. Today’s behavior clearly shows that at the first moment when representatives of the government were ‘attacked’ by a court decision, which can be appealed, the government launched a series of attacks, insults and threats and this lowers the expectations that the Reform in Justice is being asked so much not because of the need that the fragile justice system has for consolidation, but to politically control this system”.

Tahiri continues his attack

Tahiri responded to SCJ’s statement: “Once again, SCJ showed to the Albanian people the true face of justice that we do not want and the justice that we want to shake from its very foundations in order to make sure that it functions not based on the political power, wealth and ties, but based on the law”.

Rama’s and Tahiri’s declarations were met with criticism by the Union of Albanian Judges and Union of Prosecutors. For the Union of Judges, these declarations are unacceptable and they have no connection whatsoever with the justice reform which many Albanians want.

Recalling the fact that the Constitution guarantees a division of powers, the Union also calls for “such attacks” to end.

The head of the opposition denounces “the government pressure”

Meanwhile, leader of opposition, Lulzim Basha has strongly reacted against the government’s declarations against the Prosecution and courts.

“The mob like pressure that Rama and Tahiri have been exerting for two days against the justice system, reveals the people who ordered the surveillance mega-scandal”.

Basha becomes part of the debate when he says that the same judge which is attacked today by the government, was considered as “the decent man of justice when he released Tahiri’s father”, arrested for contraband of medications in his pharmaceutical depot.

“In the past three years, we have never seen the Interior Minister and Prime Minister use this language”, Basha says.

“Edi Rama and Saimir Tahiri have also added to this state crime the constitutional crime of blackmailing justice”, he continues.

According to him, every Albanian has realized now that “They are in panic from what the investigation can uncover. They are terrified that justice will shed light upon the role and the people responsible in the surveillance mega-scandal, therefore they are threatening like never before”.

Basha also issues a message for the justice system: “Prosecutors and judges who are investigating this mega affair must know that in their hands, they have the destiny of an entire democracy. That any withdrawal as a result of pressure marks the death of democracy and the birth of the tyranny of a mob like state”.

Basha also demands the removal of Saimir Tahiri from duty “as a condition for the full investigation of the state crime committed through this unlawful surveillance and by threatening national security”.

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These latest events come at a time when the reform in justice is expected to be approved.

The aggravated political climate, the strong debates between institutions, the strong verbal attacks of the government against prosecution, judges and SCJ are seen as a gloomy atmosphere which is created in a decisive moment such as the reform in justice.  Its approval seems a distant thing. The government doesn’t have two thirds of votes to pass this reform.

The opposition refuses to vote it. The democrat leader threatened opposition MPs that if they join votes with the government, their mandates will be removed.

Meanwhile, the international community is also issuing strong messages. USA and the EU said that “it will be the individual responsibility of MPs to decide if they want to keep today’s justice system corrupt and politicized or if they want to back the reform”.

Amid this entire climate of tension, an idea has emerged: referendum for the reform in the justice system. The idea was launched by a small party, but none of the large parties have backed it until now. /balkaneu.com/