The Kosovo Police Inspectorate, in tandem with the Special Prosecution, arrested some 48 border police officials and a further two customs officials on Monday. The individuals were arrested following allegations of accepting bribes.
“Since May  we have investigated this case in collaboration with the Police Inspectorate,” Chief Prosecutor Aleksander Lumezi told a press conference yesterday.
“Today we were informed that 50 state officials have been arrested, 48 belonging to Kosovo Police, and two officials of the Kosovo Customs Service. Other people are on the run, and some are not citizens of Kosovo,” he continued.
According to Lumezi, authorities began investigating custom points at the border with Albania from May 2021, after receiving a tip that border officers were accepting bribes.
The Police Inspectorate said Kosovo Customs, Kosovo Intelligence Agency and the Kosovo Police had all been involved in the year-long investigation, codenamed “Pika” (the Point).
Kushtrim Hodaj, head of the Kosovo Inspectorate, said the arrested border police and customs officials had received some 400 bribes between them. The individuals will be charged with bribery and abuse of office; they have been suspended and will be subjected to disciplinary hearings.
The arrested border police officials and customs officials were sent to the Police Inspectorate premises. There, they underwent medical examinations before being interviewed.
According to media reports, the border police and customs officers in question accepted bribes to let vehicles pass without proper documentation, the transportation of contraband goods, in addition to other illegal activities. In each case, the value of the bribes could reach as high as 400 euros.
The average monthly wage in Kosovo is around 500 euros.
The operation took place in the Gjakova/Djakovica region on the border with Albania. As part of the investigation, police secured hundreds of hours of footage of border police officials accepting bribes on the crossing at Qafe e Prushit and Qafe Morine.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Kosovans view corruption as the most important problem facing the country after unemployment. Bribery has a higher prevalence rate than other crimes in the country, more than personal theft, burglary, assault and robbery. More than half the population believe that corruption is on the rise in Kosovo, and more than a third believes the corruption rate to be unchanged.
According to recent research, eight percent of public service users in Kosovo paid a bribe to an official in the last 12 months.
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