The recent arrests could assist in implementing the rule of law in Kosovo, one analyst said.
By Linda Karadaku for southeast European Times in Pristina -- 14/09/12
A series of high-profile arrests have been made in Kosovo for extortion and other corruption-related offences. [File]
In an ongoing effort to curb corruption and boost the implementation of rule of law in the country, Kosovo prosecutors and EULEX have made a series of high-profile arrests for extortion and other corruption-related offences.
On Thursday (September 13th), Kosovo daily Koha Ditore reported that Prizren prosecutors filed charges against former Suhareka Mayor Salih Asllanaj, related to a construction agreement between the municipality and Kosovo company Ben-Af, dating back to when Asllanaj was mayor.
According to the Prizren prosecutor's office, Asllanaj enabled the company to garner almost 1 million euros in profits through the illegal agreement that gave municipality land to the company.
Asllanaj told the daily that the charges against him were "unfair," and that the municipality had benefited from the construction on the land -- 19 apartments which were given to the families of war heroes.
A day prior, EULEX police arrested three officials for corrupt business practices.
Pristina municipal council chairman and opposition LDK senior official Sami Hamiti, businessmen Agim Ademi, who runs a construction company in Pristina, and Muharrem Rama were detained on the order of a EULEX prosecutor.
Police searched several homes, business premises and municipality offices, Blerim Krasniqi, a EULEX spokesperson, told SETimes.
"The case is being investigated in a mixed team by a EULEX and a local district prosecutor in Pristina," EULEX said in a statement.
Hamiti's lawyer, Tome Gashi, told Kosovo network KTV on Wednesday that the prosecutor suspects that Ademi and Rama, at Hamiti's bidding, requested a bribe in exchange for permission to transform a green area into a construction area.
Petrit Zogaj, executive director of Kosovo's Fol Movement (Speak Up), says arrests of officials in power are the clearest indicators that corruption is not divided into central and local sectors.
"But what we would like to see is that these cases are not used for media shows by EULEX and for political shows from the political parties. That transforms the way the public debate, taking it out of any idea and debate for good governance," Zogaj told SETimes.
Therefore, we believe that these arrests and eventually, raising charges in cases of corruptive affairs, would help to have the implementation of the rule of law and dedication to the principles of the democratic governance in the level we all want them to be," Zogaj says.
Kosovo MPs brought the debate on the arrests in the parliament on Thursday.
Berat Buzhala, an MP of the ruling Democratic Party, said corruption has caused great concern among citizens.
"People are confused about the [building] permissions given [by the municipality]. This is always related to organised crime," Buzhala told the lawmakers, according to Kosovo daily Express.
Despite the efforts, many citizens are not convinced that the arrests will be seen through.
Kosovo resident Agim Geci says there is talk about corruption by lawmakers almost every day.
"From what I see, there is lot of words and less work. I just hope these arrests for corruption recently are serious and will continue. Everyone that gets rich in a dishonest and illegal way should be brought before justice. Justice should work because the state cannot be strengthened if it doesn't," Geci told SETimes.