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High-level corruption cases in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Meta and Prifti corruption scandal (disputed videotape evidence) - High-level corruption cases in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Meta and Prifti corruption scandal (disputed videotape evidence)

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Introduction

On 11 January 2011, the TV programme Fiks Fare on Top Channel TV broadcast a videotape recorded by hidden camera containing conversations between two high state officials at the time, the then Economy Minister Dritan Prifti and then Deputy Prime Minister Ilir Meta. They are recorded discussing the illegal appointment of people to various public institutions and favouring subjects in tenders in return for material benefits (see here).

Country
Albania
Sector
Public institutions
Offence
Active corruption of officials
Phase
1st instance verdict

Description of the case

On 11 January 2011, the TV programme Fiks Fare on Top Channel TV broadcast a videotape recorded by hidden camera containing conversations between two high state officials at the time, the then Economy Minister Dritan Prifti and then Deputy Prime Minister Ilir Meta. They are recorded discussing the illegal appointment of people to various public institutions and favouring subjects in tenders in return for material benefits (see here).

Prifti explained he had made the audio-visual recording in his office on 1 March 2010. According to Prifti, he made the video because of interventions, pressure and requests from Meta to favour third parties in concessions and auctions. In the recording, Meta appears to ask Prifti to intervene in a concession tender for the hydropower plant Egnatia-Shushicë in exchange for €700,000 and 7 per cent of the shares. The same video also shows Meta requesting Prifti to award the auction for the sale of crude oil to Halilaj Holding Group in exchange for €1 million.

On 24 January 2011, the Prosecutor General’s Office registered a criminal proceeding for the criminal offence of "active corruption of high state officials and local elected representatives” and “passive corruption by high state officials or local elected officials and abuse of office”, as provided for by Articles 245, 260 and 248 of the Criminal Code. Dritan Prifti submitted the video recording device as material evidence.

On 11 February 2011, a request was sent to Parliament to authorise a criminal proceeding against MP Ilir Meta. The request was accepted by Parliament on 6 February 2011.

After examining the video evidence, Albanian experts suggested that the footage had been altered with the use of animation software installed on Prifti’s laptop computer. The Albanian experts’ opinion contradicted an earlier review of the footage by British and American experts called in by the prosecution, who stated that the tape was authentic. However, the court dismissed their authentication as inadmissible and denied a third set of expert opinions.

Meta resigned as deputy prime minister in January 2011, but was acquitted by the High Court on 16 January 2012.

Later, Meta was elected President of Albania in April 2017 but was impeached in June 2021 for inciting violence and biased participation in the 2021 parliamentary election campaign.