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BIRN: The prosecution ties the hands of the court for the coercive measure against Ilir Beqaj

BIRN: The prosecution ties the hands of the court for the coercive measure

The Special Court of First Instance decided on Monday, November 20, that after the summons of the former Minister of Health, Ilir Beqaj, to be questioned regarding the accusation of "abuse of duty" brought by SPAK for the sterilization procedure, to leave in effect the coercive measures imposed on him, appearance at the judicial police and the ban on leaving the country.

The judge of the session of determining the measure of personal security against Beqaj, Erjon Bani, announced the abbreviated decision when he explained that Beqaj had benefited from the right not to give statements in the interrogation session. He stated that under these conditions, the court has decided to continue the personal security measures "Prohibition of exiting the country" and "Compulsion to appear before the judicial police" against Beqaj, as based on Article 244 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the court cannot assign a security measure heavier than the one requested by the prosecutor.

After the end of the session, Beqaj declared to the media that he had decided not to appeal the court's decision on the coercive measures imposed on him, noting that he was available for the investigation. Meanwhile, he spoke in defense of the concession procedure for which he is under investigation, claiming that it had modernized the conditions for surgical interventions.

Beqaj is the highest official under accusation for the violations found with the public-private partnership contract of sterilization, after the arrest in August of this year of his deputy in the Ministry of Health, Klodian Rrjepaj, and businessman Ilir Rrapaj.

The 3-year investigations carried out by SPAK have revealed violations of the law in the procedures for awarding one of the most expensive concessions in the health sector, with the sole purpose of declaring the companies of Ilir Rrapaj and the Italian citizen, Umbro Staccini, the winners.

The list of violations contains a feasibility study with false data in violation of the law; drafting the criteria in such a way that they fit the real situation of the pre-selected companies as well as Beqaj's inaction to resolve the conflict of interest between Rrjepaj as the chairman of the concession commission and Rrapaj as its beneficiary. Legal violations were also found during the negotiation of the concession contract, which, according to the judge, were "clearly in favor of the company declared the winner, to the detriment of the interests of the state".

SPAK's investigations on this matter until April 2022 had not progressed beyond the preliminary stage, bringing with it the statute of limitations of the criminal offense "violation of the equality of participants in public tenders or auctions", which therefore led to the avoidance of criminal responsibility of the responsible persons .

In the request for setting the amount of personal security that SPAK sent to the court against those investigated for this case, Beqaj's name was missing, but judge Erjon Bani estimated that the violations of legal acts rise to the level of criminal responsibility for the former minister. Bani also assessed that the investigations were incomplete and directed the Prosecutor's Office to investigate the case for the criminal offenses of corruption and laundering the proceeds of the criminal offense. After the court's decision, SPAK stated that the investigations for Beqje were in progress.

During a direct communication during the time when the court was adjourned for a decision, the two prosecutors of the case, Edvin Kondili and Ened Nakuçi, told BIRN that many investigative actions had been carried out since August, which made it possible for Beqaj to be registered as a person under investigation. for "abuse of duty", but without giving details about these actions.

Ilir Beqaj was elected Minister of Health in the first cabinet of Prime Minister Edi Rama and during his leadership in the years 2013-2017, three concession contracts of tens of millions of euros were signed for health system services.

From 2021, Beqaj headed the State Agency for Strategic Program and Aid Coordination, a post he resigned on Saturday. In October of this year, he also became part of the negotiating group for Albania's integration into the European Union. Reporter.al

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