Monday, March 1, 2010

Albania High Court Drops Charges Against Minister

Tirana | 01 March 2010 |
Fatmir Mediu
Fatmir Mediu
Albania’s Supreme Court dismissed on Monday two civil lawsuits against Environment Minister Fatmir Mediu. The lawsuits concerned his role in a deadly blast at a munitions demolition depot on March 15, 2008, which killed 26 people and wounded over 300.

The charges, which relate to Mediu’s role as defence minister in the previous government headed by Prime Minister Sali Berisha, were brought by two of the victims wounded by the blast, which ripped through the makeshift depot in the village of Gerdec, only ten kilometres outside Tirana.

The two young victims accused the minister of being responsible for the wounds they suffered due to the explosion and sought a civil trial. Their case rested largely on the arguments made against Mediu in the criminal case, namely accusations of abuse of power for his decision to grant the demolition contract to a company whose workers were allegedly unqualified and which allegedly performed the demolition in an unsafe manner.

The court dismissed the civil lawsuits, ruling that there was not sufficient evidence that Mediu was guilty of the crimes he was accused of committing.

On September 15, 2009, the Supreme Court suspended the criminal case against Mediu just hours after he was sworn in as minister in the new government.

The judicial panel accepted his lawyers' request that the case be suspended. Mediu's defence team argued that their client again enjoyed parliamentary immunity after having secured a seat in parliament in the June 28, 2009 parliamentary elections as leader of the Republican Party....

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