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Press Release

Verdict in an organised crime case

24 May 2012

Today a mixed panel of EULEX and local judges at the Peja/Peć District Court found Kolë Puka guilty of Abuse of Official Position or Authority, while Lon Palushaj and Bedri Bakalli were found guilty of committing the criminal offence of Fraud. Isa Salihi was acquitted of all charges.

The panel found that Kolë Puka (a former judge) and Lon Palushaj (a former lawyer) concocted a personal injury claim. Kolë Puka appointed Bedri Bakalli (a doctor) who drafted an exaggerated medical report. The defendant, Isa Salihi acted for the Guarantee Fund of Kosovo and he agreed to settle the concocted claim in the sum of sixteen thousand euros. As presiding judge Kolë Puka approved the settlement by which the Guarantee Fund of Kosovo was ordered to pay compensation in the sum of sixteen thousand euros and costs in the sum of eight hundred euros. Kolë Puka and Lon Palushaj misappropriated these monies.

Kolë Puka was sentenced to five years imprisonment for abusing his official position. In addition, the panel imposed an accessory punishment for Kolë Puka, prohibiting him from exercising public administration or public service functions for three years after the punishment of imprisonment has been served. Puka was acquitted of the offence of Organized Crime. The remaining charges were subsumed into the single count of Abuse of Official Position.

Lon Palushaj was sentenced to three years imprisonment. The panel re-classified the initial charge of Organized Crime against Palushaj to one of Fraud. Additionally, the panel issued an accessory punishment for Palushaj, prohibiting him from exercising his profession for a period of three years, starting from the day the judgement becomes final.

Bedri Bakalli was sentenced to six months of imprisonment, for committing the criminal offence of Fraud, which was re-classified by the panel from the initial charge of Organised Crime. The punishment will not be executed if the defendant does not commit another criminal offence for a period of two years. The panel issued an accessory punishment for Bedri Bakalli, prohibiting him from exercising his profession for a period of three years.

The trial panel decided that there was insufficient evidence to convict all the defendants of the criminal offence of Organized Crime. There was no evidence that the defendant, Bedri Bakalli knew of the agreement between the defendants, Kolë Puka and Jon Palushaj to defraud the Guarantee Fund of Kosovo. There must be a minimum of three persons acting together in order to commit the offence of organized crime.