Some analysts and NGOs say the government is not systematic in charging high-level officials with corruption.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 02/03/13
Some high-level politicians in Kosovo have faced corruption charges. [AFP]
Recent charges against a former deputy minister show that the country's prosecutors are not afraid to prosecute high-ranking officials for corruption, Pristina officials said, but analysts still question the government's process.
Januz Kastrati, former Kosovo deputy minister of trade and industry, is accused of ordering subordinates to include some Kosovo citizens among the official state delegation travelling to the US in order to provide US visas for them.
Kastrati has been charged with abuse of office, and his trial is pending.
Liridona Kozmaqi, spokesperson for Kosovo state prosecution office, told SETimes that Kosovo prosecutors do not hesitate to deal with high-level corruption cases.
"State prosecutors raised charges against senior officials in all Kosovo institutions, regardless of their position or level," Kozmaqi told SETimes.
But not all agree.
"The main problem is that this fight [against corruption] has not started yet, especially on the highest levels," Merita Mustafa, an anti-corruption expert at the Kosovo Democratic Institute, told SETimes.
Mustafa said that based on the level of corruption in the country, the number of investigations and charges raised are minor and contrary to the official statements about the government's dedication to fight corruption.
"The problem is that the justice bodies in Kosovo have been dealing so far with the weakest [officials] and with those who have been the most discredited," Avni Zogiani, executive director of Cohu, a Kosovo NGO covering corruption issues, told SETimes.
Zogiani believes that Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) officials have impunity.
Petrit Zogaj, executive director of Kosovo FOL movement, told SETimes that several criminally charged officials, such as former Transportation Minister Fatmir Limaj and former Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi, are either not close to Thaci, or are his critics.
"It is difficult to say that corruption is fought systematically in all cases," Zogaj said.
But, according to Kozmaqi, "The state prosecutors are dedicated to fight organised crime and corruption in all levels, without distinction."