June 6, 2012 – Kosovo Law Institute (KLI) with support of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) has organized a roundtable where the report was published “Organized Crime in Elections: Analysis of prosecution and sentence policy”. The panel of this roundtable consisted of Mrs. Emine Mustafa, vice-President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kosovo, Mrs. Laura Pula, Prosecutor at the State Prosecution and Coordinator of election cases, Mr. Betim Musliu from KLI and co-author of the report, Besa Luzha from FES and Mr. Adem Gashi from KLI.
The roundtable was attended by over 40 representatives of the justice system, judiciary, public prosecution, advocacy, political parties, legal experts, civil society, international organizations, and foreign embassies.
At the roundtable was noted that the legal framework enables effective prosecution and trial of all types of election manipulation. For the 2010 elections, prosecutors have raised indictments for 221 cases against 1,516 persons and that 758 other commissioners are in the process of raised indictments. However judges have been shown ineffective by confirming only 94 cases.
According to Betim Musliu, co-author of the report, “Prosecutors hastening in extracting figures have implemented an inadequate prosecution policy by not investigating the elements of organized crime. We have a huge number of manipulators, where 1,516 persons have already been accused, who could not act in the same time and in different places, without having persons who organized and financed them in committing these crimes. The State Prosecutor and Special Prosecution are not investigating the organizers and without their prosecution and judgment no justice will be established in the country and no such crimes will be prevented”.
According to this report “the election manipulation was systematically organized, with elements of serious crimes, structured groups and profitability of other assets”. At the roundtable was emphasized that investigative authorities are consistently failing to prosecute senior political party officials who either self-declare or accuse each other of manipulating the vote.
Municipal Courts so far have received at work 154 cases, out of which only 41 have solved involving 141 persons. So 69% of persons have been sentenced with a fine and a condition, while only 9.4% of them are sentenced with effective imprisonment. The sentence imposed in these cases is not meritorious given the damages caused. The Municipal Courts sentence has begun to correct the District Courts, following a tougher sentence policy, respectively six months effective imprisonment for each accused.
Further, the report emphasized the failure of prosecutors to investigate suspicious financing of political parties, failure of election materials, and incorrect voter lists could be a bad signal, because persons that are involved in criminal activities related to the election process will remain unpunished.
The roundtable participants said that “other asset benefits” should be interpreted in its broadest sense, prosecutors should develop strategy for preventing and fighting various forms of manipulation not only in classical cases of theft of the vote, and those changes in the electoral system should also aim to improve the technical issues which would patch the current gaps.