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Kosovo Indicts 11 Ruling Party Members for Peddling State Jobs

The move could bring locals one step closer to visa-free traveling within the Schengen zone.

9 April 2018

Kosovar prosecutors have indicted 11 people, most of whom are members of the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), on charges of corruption and nepotism. The issue is particularly sensitive as President Hashim Thaci (pictured) formerly led the PDK, including at the time the crimes were allegedly committed.

 

“The indictment has to do with the criminal activities of hiring, sharing official positions based on party affiliations and friendly connections,” said a statement issued on 6 April by a special prosecutor's office, as quoted by RFE/RL.

 

The statement only calls the defendants by their initials, but “current Minister B.B.” can most likely be identified as Minister of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Besim Beqaj, according to BNE Intellinews. The other defendants are also likely to include a former and a current parliamentarian, and former directors of two public enterprises.

 

The case rests on wiretaps made in 2011 by the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, or EULEX, during an anti-corruption operation. Prosecutors said that the defendants can be heard offering jobs at state-financed agencies to supporters of the PDK party. These jobs included positions at the rail network, courts and universities, as well as with water, energy, and health companies, according to Reuters.

 

In 2016, leaks from these wiretaps caused a scandal in Kosovo as leading PDK members were involved. The scandal was called the “Pronto Affair,” as then-Prime Minister Thaci could be heard answering a phone call from Adem Grabovci with the Italian word “pronto.” Grabovci, a senior PDK official, frequently insisted that jobs be given to PDK members, RFE/RL says.

 

 

  • An improved track record in the fight against corruption and organized crime is the last remaining condition the EU had set for Kosovo, before it would grant Kosovars the right of visa-free traveling within the Schengen Zone. The penultimate condition was the ratification of a border deal with Montenegro, which was finalized last month.

 

  • EULEX was set up to foster the rule of law in Kosovo after its 1998-1999 war of independence from Serbia.

 

  • In November last year, Deputy Prime Minister Fatmir Limaj, who is a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army and formerly a close ally of President Thaci, was acquitted of all corruption charges levied against him, Balkan Insight reported.

Compiled by Wasse Jonkhans

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