The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has confirmed the authenticity of an internal report that included several controversial third-party allegations of corruption by members of Parliament including the prime minister.
Lapsi which published some of its contents on Friday. It contains notes on a number of Albanian lawmakers, which appear to have been compiled from media coverage.The report was leaked to Albanian news portal
The document includes press reports that Prime Minister Edi Rama stashed € 200 million in offshore bank accounts allegedly stemming from corrupt practices, including bribes taken in exchange for construction permits when he was mayor of Tirana in 2000 and 2001.
It also contains press reports claiming that parliamentary spokesman from the ruling Socialist Party, Ilir Meta, was linked to organized crime groups and had ordered two contract killings.
It also quotes an investigation by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network which claims that former Prime Minister Sali Berisha used his position to enrich members of his family.
A day after the report was leaked, OSCE Ambassador to Albania Florian Raunig confirmed that the document came from the OSCE, but also said he regretted its publication since the contents were not proven facts, but rather a compilation of press coverage.
“This information became public even though it is not proven, but rather a result of false interpretation and political manipulation. Let me be clear – the published information does not represent OSCE policy, and will not be the basis of our views or evaluation,” he said.
Raunig apologized to all those implicated in the document for the inconvenience.
But while some of the highest public officials in Albania have been investigated for various alleged crimes, none of them has been convicted.
Parliamentary spokesman Ilir Meta was tried for corruption and abuse of power in 2011 after a video appearing to show him talking about high-level graft surfaced in the media.
He was cleared of all charges by the Supreme Court a year later.
Albania: Interior Minister Protected Drug Smugglers, Says Opposition
Albania’s oppositional Democratic Party has called for the resignation of Sajmir Tahiri, Minister of the Interior, accusing him of protecting criminal groups that smuggle Albanian marijuana to Italy by plane.
denies the allegations and called on prosecutors to investigate his detractors.Tahiri, a member of the ruling Socialist Party,
The calls for Tahiri to quit came on Monday after a TV interview with police officer Dritan Zagani, who was arrested on May 2 on suspicion of leaking information about police operations to drug smuggling gangs.
Zagani told journalists he had uncovered a chain of drug dealers trafficking marijuana, mostly from the southern Albanian village of Lazarat to Greece and Italy.
After conducting a secret investigation he forwarded information, including the phone numbers of drug dealers, to the central police office in Tirana. They responded to say the office checked the numbers, but that they did not work.
According to Zagani, a person from this office then tipped the trafficking group off that they were the target of a police probe.
Zagani claims to have found that top officials within the Interior Ministry, including Tahiri, were linked with the drug trafficking group.
At this point, Zagani said, he realised that he would then be scapegoated and accused himself of colluding with the drug trafficking group.
The allegations against Tahiri are only one of the worries of the ruling Socialist Party this week.
On Monday, Socialist Party lawmaker Arben Ndoka resigned over revelations that he had in 2003 been given a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence in Italy for human trafficking.
Balkan Insight reports that Ndoka was transferred to a prison in Albania where a court cut his sentence, freeing him in under three years.
In an open letter to fellow MPs, Ndoka claimed that the woman that accused him of trafficking, his brother’s fiancee, staged her own kidnapping.
The allegations against Ndoka were, as with Tahiri’s case, voiced by the opposition. In July 2014, Democratic Party MP Genc Strazmiri addressed Parliament over Ndoka’s past. Ndoka later assaulted Strazmiri. Albania’s High Court said the assault was outside of its purview to convict, since it took place within Parliament.
Also on Monday, another Socialist Party lawmaker’s immunity from prosecution was lifted after he was arrested at the weekend.
Prosecutors suspect that Armando Prega shot and injured a fisherman during a brawl over fishing rights to a local lagoon.
On Tuesday the US Embassy in Tirana praised both Ndoka’s decision to resign and the Parliament’s decision to lift Prega’s immunity.