Special Court turns down probe request on former defense minister

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The Special Court turned down a request to reopen investigations against former defense minister Fatmir Mediu over the tragic incident in Gërdec in 2008, where 26 workers died and over 100 were badly injured following a series of explosions at an old ammunition factory.

In February, the family of a seven-year-old boy that died at the former factory, sent a letter to the Special Court pleading to accept SPAK’s request to launch a probe against Mediu.

In the letter, the Durdaj family argues that the file contains plenty of evidence on malpractice and abuse of office, which can potentially pave the way to holding a trial against the former defense minister.

According to them, a state with a strong rule of law does not hamper the prosecution of a state official and is the raison d’etre of the entire justice reform.

What did the judge argue?

Judge Erjon Çela overturned SPAK’s request to reopen investigations against Fatmir Mediu, based on two main arguments.

Firstly, he said that a case cannot reopen if no new evidence is presented. Secondly, he argued that from 2012 lawmakers in Albania no longer have parliamentary immunity, therefore since the prosecution has not followed up on the case for such a long time, the conditions are not right to reopen the investigation after 10 years.

Shortly after, SPAK chief Arben Kraja responded to an inquiry from Euronews Albania that they intend to appeal the court’s decision.

Legal feud background

Earlier on, as the case reopened, the High Court announced that it didn’t have the authority to deal with the suit and shifted competencies to the Special Court against Corruption and Organized Crime.

The shift came shortly after the Special Prosecution called on the High Court to reopen the case against the former defense minister.

In 2009, Mediu was acquitted as he was an MP and was shielded by parliamentary immunity.

The powerful blast, just 11 kilometers northwest of the capital, claimed the lives of 26 workers, who were mainly locals and hence lacked the knowledge to handle the complex process of dismantling obsolete ammunition.

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