A family affair: KLP adds relatives of the SP deputy to the Prosecutor's Office of Tirana

2023-05-29 22:36:00, Denoncim CNA

A family affair: KLP adds relatives of the SP deputy to the Prosecutor's

In Monday's plenary meeting, the High Council of Prosecution approved with 10 votes in favor the transfer of prosecutor Alma Felaj from Durrës to the Prosecutor's Office of Tirana, where she will start exercising her function on June 5.

Prosecutor Alma Felaj is the sister-in-law of the deputy of the Socialist Party, Ermonela Felaj, and her third relative to be appointed to the Prosecutor's Office of Tirana during the last four years.

In March 2019, the High Prosecution Council decided to appoint, through a controversial procedure, Felaj's husband, Bledar Valikaj, to the Tirana Prosecutor's Office, without first going through a vetting process.

Just a few months later, in May 2019, the General Prosecutor's Office selected, after a competitive procedure, the deputy's brother, Armando Felaj, as a judicial police officer in the Prosecutor's Office of Tirana.

The Law "On the Status of Judges and Prosecutors in the Republic of Albania", adopted in 2016 as part of the judicial reform, addressed nepotism in justice institutions in the environmental incompatibility clause - calling on the Supreme Judicial Council and the of the Prosecution to avoid close ties between magistrates.

"Environmental incompatibility, in the sense of this article, is created due to close family ties between magistrates, which are, respectively, the spouse, cohabitant or his/her relatives up to the second degree," it is stated in article 8, point 1 of the law.

Asked about the transfer of the prosecutor Alma Felaj, the head of the KLP, Alfred Balla, who was absent from the plenary meeting on Monday, made it clear that the case in question was not part of the circle of prohibitions due to environmental incompatibility.

Balla said that based on point 5 of Article 8, Magistrate Alma Felaj, together with the request for transfer, submitted a self-declaration where she declares that she is not in the conditions of environmental incompatibility.

"We cannot know the civil status of OPGJ, the prosecutors," Balla said through the Whatsapp application. Even the relator of the draft act for the appointment, Bujar Sheshi, told BIRN that the candidate Alma Felaj, like all the other candidates, had presented a self-declaration that she was not in the conditions of environmental incompatibility in her transfer from the Prosecutor's Office of Durrës to that of Tirana.

He added that the legal changes of 2019 did not prevent the exercise of the duties of the magistrates with Krushki ties, while the situation of environmental incompatibility could not be considered with his husband Armando Felaj, since he is a judicial police officer and does not enjoy the status of magistrates.

"The law defines close family ties for magistrates," said Sheshi.

The head of the Prosecutor's Office of Tirana, Arens Çela, told BIRN that he could not comment on the decisions of the High Council of Prosecutors.

"Those powers that I have are related to the organizational division within the Prosecutor's Office of Tirana. We definitely keep and will keep in mind the avoidance of conflict of interest," Çela emphasized.

The deputy of the Socialist Party, Ermonela Felaj, did not respond to the request for comment until the publication of this article.

Alma Felaj graduated from the Magistrate's School in 2006 and first worked in the Prosecutor's Office of Fier. Since 2012, she has been working at the Durrës District Prosecutor's Office. While her husband, Armando Felaj, worked as a lawyer for a private company before being appointed an officer of the Judicial Police./ BIRN

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