KLI: Judicial system has failed in treating track record cases

KLI: Judicial system has failed in treating track record cases

KLI: Judicial system has failed in treating track record cases

Pristina, 25 June 2019 – Kosovo Law Institute (KLI), supported US State Department – Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)  and NED, held a press conference where it published the analytical report: “Failures in treating track record cases”.

This report includes findings, evaluations and recommendations regarding the process and treatment of track record cases from the judicial system from the beginning of this process (December 2019 up to May 2019).

Ehat Miftaraj, Executive Director of KLI, stated that the prosecutorial and judicial system have failed to treat cases in the track record.  According to Miftaraj, the process itself has not been in compliance with Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) adopted by the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council (KPC), after such cases were put in the track record without fulfilling the criteria determined in the SOP.  Miftaraj stated that the purpose of putting serious crime cases in the track record, was asset confiscation committed by criminal activity, something that happened after there were no results in this regard.

Medina Kadriu, KLI researcher stated that from December 2015 until 28 June 2019, 51 cases were put in the track record, involving 372 persons.  “Against the fact that the aim of cases in the track record was treating such cases with priority, based on monitoring and research conducted by KLI results that over 90% of track record cases, judges violate legal deadlines determined in the Criminal Procedure Code”.  According to her, inefficiency in treating these cases is proven by the way they are treated from December 2015 up to May 2019, in which period results that only 39% of cases or 15 cases have final rulings, whereas 61% or 23 other cases are still in proceedings at various instances.  “From 23 cases that are undergoing proceedings, 10 of them are at first instance, 9 are in second instance but are in appellate procedure, whereas 4 others were sent for re-trial”, said Kadriu.

Leotrim Gashi, KLI researcher, presented the procedural part of the cases in the track record at the judicial system. “Another characteristic feature in treating these cases is the fact that most of the track record cases are failing to conclude in convictions and confiscation of assets.  From the 15 cases with final rulings, where 48 people are accused, 34 people or 71% of them are acquitted by the courts, 14 people or 29% of them are sentenced. Punitive sanctions against 14 people are inadequate and through it does not achieve the purpose of the punishment.  Nine of the accused are sentences with effective imprisonment, whereas 5 of the accused are sentenced with a fine”.

Gashi states that the profile of persons accused in these cases are dominantly low profile and medium profile, whereas small amounts are high profile.  “Moreover, in these 15 cases with final verdicts not one person belongs to high profile, they are all acquitted”.

Furthermore, Gashi stated that in these cases, the confiscation of assets is zero. “There are cases when there was a confiscation of assets in relation to the means of committing the criminal offenses, which themselves represent a social risk.  But in no case have we had confiscation related to the offenses for which the persons involved in these cases have been charged or convicted. ”

In July 2014, KPC adopted “Standard Operating Procedures for selection of Serious Crime cases in the track record and Inter-Institutional Cooperation”.  Through this, law enforcement institutions in Kosovo aimed at preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators of the most serious criminal offenses through mutual co-operation with the ultimate goal of seizing and confiscating the wealth obtained through criminal offenses.  One year after the KPC, the KJC on 30 December 2015 rendered a decision obligating Court Presidents and judges that all cases that come from prosecution marked “LV” (Visa Liberalisation) to be treated with absolute priority.

From December 2015 up to June 2019, 51 cases have been put in the track record; of them 36 cases are corruption cases with 206 persons involved, 15 cases with 166 people relating to organised crime, in total 372 people.  The first case to enter the track record was an indictment against the President of PRB, “Hysni Hoxha and others” raised on 4 December 2014, whereas the last case to enter the track record is the indictment of “Veterans” raised on 7 December 2018.

The KLI analysis, results that the track record mechanism of serious crime for visa liberalisation has continuously violated the criteria determined by the Standard Operating Procedures in identifying which cases are for the track record.  Many track record cases do not fulfil the SOP criteria, whereas many cases that fulfil the criteria have not entered into the track record.  The most representative cases that prove that the State Prosecutor identifies cases for the track record only to increase the number of track record cases and not achieving the purpose of why this mechanism was established in treating serious crime cases, are cases such as “Lawyer 2”, where the defendant was a municipal official and the value of the damage caused to the municipality of Gjakova was a property of 16 acres.  In this case, a municipal lawyer was convicted; who was acquitted of two corruption offences, while for another corruption offense was fined 2000 euros.  The reports include many other cases that were identified and elaborated in detail.

Whilst the focus of the State Prosecutor was in targeting cases for the track record that do not correspond to the purpose of SOP’s, this institution has ignored cases that fall within the scope of serious criminal offenses and where the damage caused to the budget of the Republic Kosovo or its citizens spend tens or hundreds of millions of euros in value and where the opportunity to seize and confiscate such wealth acquired through criminal activity is very high.

It is characteristic that the State Prosecutor, while targeting serious cases for the track record, has amnestied high-profile persons who come from politics or have strong political affiliations, despite the fact that they are accused by the Prosecutor for organized crime, corruption, fraud, etc. Among the most representative cases that do not meet the SOP criteria, but which have not been targeted are cases such as: “Land”, “Uke Rugova and others”, “Qemajl Mustafa and others”, “Pal Lekaj and others ”,“ Pronto ”, etc.

From 51 cases in the track record, it shows that there are 38 indictments, 8 cases under investigation, 4 cases have ceased investigations and 1 case had investigations suspended.

Another problematic issue that has affected the efficiency and economics of these cases within the track record was the frequent change of prosecutors who have represented the indictment, as well as the changes of presiding judges, changes which have led to delays and unresolved cases. It is worth pointing out that in the case of “Damage”, in which up until now the presiding judge has changed three times and has affected that although 19 hearings have been held, this case will now be adjudicated from point zero.

For more, please find attached the voluminous report on ““Failures in treating track record cases”..