In July 2013, the EULEX mission in Kosovo concluded, based on SMS tracking, that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute three high-ranking officials in the Ministry of Transport, Post and Telecommunications as an organised criminal group that had committed the offences of abusing their official position or authority and taking bribes.
- Transport & Infrastructure, Public Contracting
- Bribery, Abuse of official position or authority, Embezzlement
- 2nd instance verdict
Main Details of the Offence Committed
In July 2013, the EULEX mission in Kosovo concluded, based on SMS tracking, that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute three high-ranking officials in the Ministry of Transport, Post and Telecommunications as an organised criminal group that had committed the offences of abusing their official position or authority and taking bribes. The officials were Fatmir Limaj, former minister; Nexhat Krasniqi, former head of procurement at the ministry; and Endrit Shala, the ministry’s former chief of staff.
The prosecution alleged that the group sought to award favourable contracts to road maintenance companies in exchange for payment of 20 per cent of the total value of the contracts. From 2008 to 2010, Krasniqi allegedly manipulated the procurement procedures and, at Limaj’s instruction, made sure that the contracts went to companies prepared to pay bribes.
One case was a tender for the construction of roads in Gjilan. The group offered to have 20 per cent of the total deposited in the account of the construction company Inter-Europa, whose owner would eventually have to pay the sum back. When the owner did not agree to the offer, the defendants approached the owner of the competing construction company Tali with the same offer. The two parties allegedly agreed on a deal that resulted in Tali winning the tender for €1,192,844.94 in exchange for €250,000 that was to go to Limaj and his group.
Besides the three officials, the prosecution also charged the owner of Tali, Florim Zuka, with bribery. However, his charge reached the statutory limitation during the legal proceedings.
Abuse of official position or authority, embezzlement and bribery.
Limaj stood accused in his capacity as minister in charge of the Ministry of Transport, Post and Telecommunications; Shala as former chief of staff at the ministry and Limaj’s political adviser, and Krasniqi as the ministry’s former head of procurement.
Transport & Infrastructure; Public contracting
Court of Appeals
2nd instance judgement, acquittal of the accused
Two indictments were brought against the three ministry officials and other defendants. The first was filed on 5 December 2012, while the second was filed on 19 February 2014. Two initial hearings were held in the cases. On 30 May 2014, the two cases were merged into one, resulting in a so-called consolidated indictment that was filed at the end of September 2015.
On 24 November 2017, the Basic Court of Pristina acquitted the accused of organised crime, corruption and other criminal offences. The Court of Appeals confirmed the decision in July 2019.
The case was transferred from the EULEX mission to domestic judges and prosecutors, requiring the new judges and prosecutors to learn and treat the case from scratch.
Outcome of the Case
The acquittal of the defendants was confirmed by the Court of Appeals on 2 July 2019.
- 1 to 10 years in prison and a fine for abuse of official position or authority (Art. 414)
- 6 months to 12 years in prison and a fine for embezzlement (Art. 418)
- 1 to 15 years in prison and a fine for bribery (Art. 421)