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Ending impunity for grand corruption in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Pal Lekaj and others - Ending impunity for grand corruption in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Pal Lekaj and others

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Introduction

On 10 July 2018, the Special Prosecution Office of Kosovo charged Pal Lekaj, former mayor of Gjakova, and other municipal officials with abuse of their official position or authority in the distribution of subsidies to farmers in Gjakova. Estimated subsidies of €631,671.82 were earmarked for distribution to roughly 3,000 farmers through the company Union-VL. Union-VL was not chosen through an open call but in an “arbitrary” way, and approximately 40 per cent of the farmers are suspected not to have received their entitled subsidies.

Country
Kosovo
Sector
Agriculture
Offence
Abuse of official position or authority
Phase
1st instance procedure

Timeline

Suspicion
Official detection
Prelim. investigation
Investigation
Settlement
Indictment filed
Court accepts case
1st instance procedure
1st instance verdict
2nd instance procedure
2nd instance verdict
3rd instance procedure
3rd instance verdict
Extraordinary remedy
Pardon
Enforcement
No charges have been submitted
No criminal procedures

Main Details of the Offence Committed

On 10 July 2018, the Special Prosecution Office of Kosovo charged Pal Lekaj, former mayor of Gjakova, and other municipal officials with abuse of their official position or authority in the distribution of subsidies to farmers in Gjakova. Estimated subsidies of €631,671.82 were earmarked for distribution to roughly 3,000 farmers through the company Union-VL. Union-VL was not chosen through an open call but in an “arbitrary” way, and approximately 40 per cent of the farmers are suspected not to have received their entitled subsidies.

The prosecution also alleges that Lekaj and other officials took additional municipal funds and transferred them to the Union-VL account, causing harm to the municipality and to the farmers who did not receive subsidies.

In addition, the subsidies were allegedly authorised by the accused without any supervision of their actual payment to farmers. Moreover, there was no contract with Union-VL. However, the chairs and members of the committees in charge of overseeing the distribution of the subsidies have allegedly compiled reports stating that the distribution was done correctly.

The farmers who did not receive their subsidies are members of an economically vulnerable group, which has been discriminated against by the defendants’ actions in the case.

Abuse of official position or authority (Article 414 of the Criminal Code)

Lekaj is a former mayor of Gjakova, former leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo parliamentary group and former minister for infrastructure. The other defendants are municipal officials of Gjakova.

2008 to 2014

Agriculture

Jurisdiction(s)

Basic Court of Gjakova

Procedural Details

1st instance procedure

The prosecution issued its decision to begin investigations on 12 April 2016. An indictment was filed on 10 April 2018 and the first hearing took place on 31 May 2018. On 24 July 2018, the Basic Court of Gjakova overturned some parts of the indictment. In November 2018, the Court of Appeals reinstated the case and referred it back to the Basic Court of Gjakova.

On 3 January 2019, the defendants filed another request to dismiss the whole indictment, but their request was denied by the Basic Court of Gjakova on 10 January 2019. The court confirmed the indictment of Lekaj, Isufi and Hajdaraga, but released Pashk Syla, Bekim Syla, Teuta Mejzini and Dafina Thaqi from the charges, overturning the parts of the indictment in which they stood accused.

On 10 March 2019, the Court of Appeals further confirmed the indictment of Lekaj, Isufi and Hajdaraga.

In April 2019, the Basic Court of Gjakova decided to involve new financial expertise in the case. The latest session was held on 21 February 2020, when the last group of witnesses gave testimony.

Outcome of the Case

Case ongoing

1 to 10 years in prison plus a fine

N/A

N/A