Albania – Leaked prosecutor investigation by VOA reveals criminal gangs were involved in vote buying in 2017

Tirana, Albania | 31 Jan 2019 (Tirana Echo) – Leaked documents from an ongoing investigation by Albania’s prosecutors has revealed criminal gangs were involved in vote buying during the 2017 electoral campaign – according to the Voice of America and BIRN.

Leaked phone tapping details from two separate investigations by the Serious Crimes Prosecutor of Albania have confirmed previous media allegations of vote buying by criminal gangs in the districts of Durrës, Dibra, Lezha and Kavaja.

An investigative special report published by the VOA in collaboration with BIRN last night, reveals wiretapping details from prosecution File no. 339 where the Shijak based ‘Avdyli’ drug lords were involved in vote buying in cooperation with current socialist Mayor of Durrës Vangjush Dako.

The investigation allegedly shows that Mr. Dako and the Avydli brothers have known and worked closely together well before the 2017 general elections which secured a second governing mandate for PM Edi Rama’s Socialist Party.

Opposition democrats have accused Rama of working with criminal groups in order to secure his grip on political power in Albania, while the prime minister has denied all involvement in vote buying throwing the ball back to the democrats, who suffered a major electoral defeat in June 2017.

In a separate appearance, Mr. Dako has also denied the allegations, arguing he is constantly in touch with his electorate under his capacity as Mayor of the country’s biggest sea port city.

Following the publications of wiretapping details, the Serious Crimes Prosecutor has confirmed this morning that it has started investigating on how the leaked classified information of an ongoing investigation was obtained by investigative journalist Klodiana Lala and BIRN.

Speaking to BIRN, Afrim Krasniqi, head of the Institute for Political Studies in Tirana says that some criminal groups have higher leverage than political parties in certain areas of the country, particularly in Dibra, Elbasan, Shkodra, Durrës, Kavaja and Lezha.

 “Initially, criminals sponsored local politicians, but later, they started to run for office themselves. Now, we have two tendencies, sponsoring and running for office”, Krasniqi said, adding that ties between criminals and politicians have damaged the Albanian state institutions and their integrity.

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