Court delivers judgment to air traffic controllers charged with abuse of office



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On Saturday, the Court of Tirana ruled to leave two of the three air traffic controllers charged with abuse of office to jail.

Following the prosecution’s request, in a session that took place behind closed doors, the court decided to leave in prison Armando Fezga and Muhin Mezini, and Flora Ndreca on house arrest.

The controller’s attorney, Rezart Kthupi, said in front of the media that he is “disappointed” by the court’s ruling as the “act for which they’re being accused is not a criminal offense”, but a “judicial civil dispute”.

“Three people are being accused of walking out of their job, of having abused with their duty … if that would have really been the case, it would be the whole body of air traffic controllers, the three of them cannot block the activity of the entire airport”, said Kthupi, adding that he can not give further answers as he is “morally overwhelmed”.

Armando Fezga is also the president of the union of air traffic controllers, while Muhin Mezini is a hall supervisor and Flora Ndreca works as a controller.

Dozens of Albcontrol employees, responsible for the management of air traffic at the airport of Tirana, submitted a document stating that they are “unable to work”.

Refusing to call it a strike, they claim that the decision came after the executives of the company had enacted procedures to fire three other employees, who had submitted an “unable to work” form, after demanding revision of their wages.

In August 2020, air traffic controllers sued the company at the Administrative Court following a decision by the monitoring council that saw their wages halved under until further notice the pretense of the pandemic.

The Albanian government has been referring to the entire situation as a “strike”. Citing the law, Minister of Infrastructure Belinda Balluku said that air traffic control is “an essential service”, hence its workers are “prohibited from entering in a strike”.

The minister justified the decision over pay cuts as a result of reduced aerial activities due to the pandemic.

However, workers of Albcontrol say that despite the economic situation, the company has continued to open tenders and see this as “unacceptable” since their wages have been reduced.

The situation has caused a public spat between the government, the presidency, and the opposition, over who’s responsible for the entire situation.

Prime Minister Edi Rama says that the story is a “sabotage” designed by President Ilir Meta and former premier Sali Berisha. According to him, they want to “shut down the airport” and prevent the arrival of the vaccines.

On the other hand, President Meta and former PM Berisha accused the government and minister Balluku, who has previously been the director of Albcontrol. In light of these accusations, Meta has called on the Supreme State Audit to conduct a thorough audit of the company.



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