EULEX Accused of Breaking Kosovo’s Legal Procedure

Ilir Tolaj’s defence lawyer has accused the EULEX prosecution of violating the Procedural Code of Kosovo while gathering evidence against his client.The defence at the trial of Ilir Tolaj and ten other former senior government officials charged with corruption, have accused the EU’s rule of law mission to Kosovo, EULEX, prosecutors of unlawfully obtaining evidence and asked the court to rule it inadmissible.Pristina’s District Court confirmed the indictment on Tuesday against the former Deputy Prime Minister, Bujar Bukoshi, the Health Ministry Secretary General Ilir Tolaj and nine other defendants charged with abusing their official positions and accepting bribes to award health contracts, in a case known as “Ilir Tolaj et al.”

Tolaj’s lawyer, Bajram Tmava, said during Wednesday’s session that the prosecutor of the case had breached the laws of Kosovo, during the investigation and evidence gathering stage.

“For instance, the prosecutor ordered a raid on my client’s prison cell in Dubrava. There was no court warrant for it, this was just a verbal order,” he said.

“Second, my client’s text messages were intercepted, and some of them were private and had nothing to do with the charges against Mr. Tolaj…this represents a serious violation of the Procedural Penal Code of Kosovo,” Tmava added.

Over 25,000 documents relating to the case have been gathered by the prosecution team.

In the previous hearing all eleven defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

Tolaj, the former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health, was arrested in 2010 by EULEX police and the Kosovo Police Anti-Corruption Task Force in the context of a criminal investigation into tax evasion.

He was later charged, together with the other nine defendants, all former Ministry of Health officials, on 10 counts, ranging from abuse of his official position to taking bribes from private companies.

Bukoshi is suspected of abusing his public position when he was Minister of Health in 2008. He resigned last month, after the EU rule of law mission, EULEX, announced that he was being investigated in connection with the charges against Ilir Tolaj.

The government said Bukoshi stepped down as Deputy Prime Minister out of respect for the legal process and to give the judicial institutions room to do their work.

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