President Vjosa Osmani said she would not decree Blerim Isufaj as Kosovo’s chief prosecutor due to “violations in this process.” Her decision comes one and a half years after Isufaj was first selected for the job by the country’s Prosecutorial Council.
Osmani described the process of electing the chief prosecutor as “irregular,” and told reporters that her “responsibility obliges [her] not to sit idly by while such a process seriously violates fundamental values.”
The Prosecutorial Council dismissed Osmani’s allegations, arguing that the move by the president confirmed that there is a “systematic effort to extend political influence over the prosecutorial system.”
The Prosecutorial Council also accused Osmani of flouting the constitution by rejecting its pick for chief prosecutor, and said “such public statements constitute direct interference in the work of the prosecutorial system, namely in the institution of the State Prosecutor.”
The Prosecutorial Council also said that “stands behind the procedures for the selection of the Chief State Prosecutor.”
“The president of the republic cannot appoint any prosecutor without the proposal of the Prosecutorial Council, but neither can she reject the proposal of the Prosecutorial Council for the appointment of prosecutors,” it continued.
According to the Prosecutorial Council, Kosovo’s legal framework only gives the president leeway to reject a proposal from the council if “he/she does not fulfill the formal conditions, but in no way reject it for substantial reasons.”
Blerim Isufaj currently heads Kosovo’s Special Prosecution. He was initially picked by the 11-member Prosecutorial Council in April 2022 to become Chief State Prosecutor, but a complaints commission found fault with the way candidates were rated. Osmani had not made a decision about Isufaj’s appointment until Tuesday this week.
In its assessment of Isufal, the Prosecutorial Council gave him 98 points out of a possible 100. Critics, however, said the process was clouded by a lack of transparency and by political interference.
Osmani is an ally of Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Justice Minister Albulena Haxhiu and parliament speaker Glauk Konjufca. All three are members of the ruling Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) party, and had previously criticized the decision to nominate Isufaj, arguing that his record did not justify the promotion.
Osmani earlier claimed that she would not make a decision regarding the chief prosecutor position until all legal and constitutional deadlines for candidates to challenge the result had passed. The Prosecutorial Council, however, claimed that the legal avenues to contest the recruitment process had already been explored earlier.
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