Olsian Çela talks about his first nine months as Prosecutor General

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Olsian Çela was appointed as the Prosecutor General of Albania nine months ago, shortly after the devastating earthquake that was followed by a pandemic.

In an interview for Euronews Albania’s “Ilva Now”, Mr.Cela said that these two natural disasters did not make it easy for his institution to operate under such conditions.

He encouraged prosecutors to conduct in-depth investigations in order to bring to justice those who were responsible for the buildings that were destroyed by the November 26th earthquake. Çela said that Prosecutors have updated him with the legal violations regarding the constructions.

“Some of the investigations were completed, but there are many others that are undergoing in Durres, which can later turn into recommendations for the legal base”, Çela said.

New institutions in a centralized culture

Asked by journalist Ilva Tare whether he has received pressures during these nine months, Çela said that the approach of the Prosecutor General was to not allow anyone interfering with an independent institution.

As regards the Judicial Reform, the key element to success is the independence of Prosecutors and the increased awareness. But the new functionality scheme has apparently brought new issues.

“We come from a hierarchic and centralized culture. It is hard to change the working culture, that’s why it is necessary to issue the legal acts”, Çela declared.

According to the PG, the judicial reform has divided the investigation of crimes into two bigger branches, which aren’t clear whether they will become a problem for the future or not. However, he is optimistic that the choice that was offered will be successful.

“The legal instruments made available to a Prosecutor for interfering with the system are the general instructions that regulate the relations between the system and the supervision, control, of the judicial police. In these nine months, we tried to maximize these elements that a PG can use so that we can achieve the entire potential that the system promises”, Çela said.

Cooperation between the Prosecution General and SPAK

Asked whether the Prosecutor General could cooperate with the Special Structure Against Corruption (SPAK), Cela said that SPAK is not a new finding. He reminded the Prosecution of Serious Crimes, created in 2004, in the framework of a centralized Prosecution. For Çela, that has been the Prosecution with the best performance in the past years.

“SPAK was conceived based on this model, but it also includes the National Bureau of investigation, and the way how it was created is something new. Essentially, it is the division into two large units of the Prosecution; the general jurisdiction prosecutors, and the special prosecutors who operate independently. Those are tied in a procedural manner, with SPAK being the Prosecution that gives the final decision”, Cela said.

“Let’s not forget that most of the cases are investigated by general jurisdiction prosecutors. These cases bring out many elements, from corruption to organized crime, and later this is sent to SPAK”, Cela said, underlining that the competencies are divided and the real challenge for the moment remains coordination.

The “big fish” of crime and the new judicial system

The General Prosecutor clarifies the public opinion, which expects “big fish” from the Prosecution General, that after the Judicial Reform, organized crime and high-level corruption are now competences belonging to the Special Structure Against Corruption (SPAK).

Asked by host Ilva Tare whether there was any mechanism that could prevent Prosecutors from overstepping their competences, Çela said that one of the competences of the Prosecutor General is to refer disciplinary violations to the High Justice Inspector.

“We have created a system that will monitor violations made by Prosecutors and judicial police. Our information is administrative, and it is sent to the High Inspector. This is how we help the Inspectorate completing its duties”, Çela declared.

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