Albania to leave prosecutors
Posted by franksupa on October 15, 2008
The prosecutor’s office said it wanted Damir Fazlic, a Bosnian-British businessman, for questioning in connection with allegations first made in a newspaper of money laundering related to real estate deals. The paper is run by an ally-turned-foe of Prime Minister Sali Berisha.
Fazlic has denied the allegations.
The EU envoys said: “This may lead to undue interference and possible institutional conflict in the country.”
“We strongly call upon all, in particular the government, to respect the constitutional provisions and principles of good governance, including accountability to the law,” they added in a statement issued by the French embassy, the current EU chair.
EU ambassadors said they were troubled by “recent developments concerning the judicial system” after the General Prosecutor’s office said police refused its request to invite a man for questioning before he left Albania.
The European Union has told Albania it needs to do more to fight organised crime and corruption as well as foster democracy and respect the independence of institutions if it wants to advance its bid to join the bloc.
On Monday, the U.S. embassy voiced similar worries.
“All cases should be fully, completely and independently investigated without any outside interference or threats to prosecutors. Respect of all independent institutions is essential for a healthy democracy,” the U.S. spokesman said.
Fazlic flew to Tirana on a private jet last Wednesday and left one hour before his scheduled flight, and before prosecutors could catch up with him at the airport.
Berisha has defended the police action, saying prosecutors could not order officers to hold someone for questioning.
“Even if the worst enemy of the prime minister would have been stopped in this way, it would have been a big shame for the country,” Berisha told a news conference on Monday.
“I cannot have another opinion … when this gentleman happens tobe a friend of the prime minister, a man who has contributed to my election campaign. I also said he would be investigated to see if he has taken any money from public funds.”
Berisha came to power in 2005 promising to govern with “clean hands”, but his government has also been accused of corruption and two of his ministers have had their immunities stripped to be investigated for abuse of office.
After Prosecutor General Ina Rama asked her staff not to cave in to pressure after the row over Fazlic, Berisha said he would call in foreign experts to look into government corruption cases. His party said Rama could be investigated.
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