The head of the Prosecution Office for Serious crimes, Donika Prela, appeared in front of the Independent Evaluation Commission to undergo the vetting process. Chief prosecutor Prela appeared in the hearing by herself, choosing to wave her right of representation by a lawyer.
The vetting process for the prosecutor in question was handled by Roland Ilia, Olsi Komici and Valbona Sanxhaktari.
One of the members of the jury, Valbona Sanxhaktari said that the commission has identified problems with her assets. According to her, Prela had not declared a loan of 1 million lek. Meanwhile, there have also been suspicions regarding a plot of land purchased by her due to the suspicious price that it was bought for, given that the plot in question was located in an area under development. Sanxhaktari also said that discrepancies have also been identified with the declarations made by the prosecutor’s husband for the period 2003-2005.
An investigation was also conducted in relation to a 96 square meter apartment in her husband’s name purchased for 32.100 euros. The price of the apartment is lower than the market’s price. The Independent Evaluation Commission investigated this issue and the construction company was asked to provide further information. This company replied by saying that the prosecutor’s husband, Vangjel Prela was employed there and this was the reason why he was given this price. According to the company, other employees have also benefited from this practice.
As far as her professional side is concerned, nothing wrong was discovered. In yesterday’s hearing, the head of the Prosecutor’s Office for Serious Crimes, Donika Prela was asked a number of awkward questions concerning incomes that her husband had not declared.
The representative of the International Monitoring Opinion, Theo Jacobs asked Prela why her husband was paid in cash.
“Why was your husband paid in cash and did he have a bank account? This may seem like an inappropriate question, but what I would like to know is whether he has paid his taxes or not. I do like to focus on the issue of taxes”, Jacobs said. He asked the chief prosecutor to help him understand if her husband had evaded the payment of taxes and whether she had been an accomplice or a victim.
In her reply, Prela said that her husband had signed a legal employment contract and that the construction company had not complied with its legal obligations. “This is not an isolated case. There are also cases when state institutions too do not comply with contracts. Tax authorities do not oblige employees to pay taxes. Taxes are paid by the employer. We’re the damaged ones in this case, but our intention was not to possess illegal assets”, the prosecutor declared.
Prela had argued with one of her subordinates regarding Shullazi’s case
Donika Prela has attended law school from 1995 to 1999, while she attended the Magistrates School from 1999 to 2002. She has worked as prosecutor in Durres District Attorney’s Office for more than 15 years as head of the task force against organized crime.
In May 2018, Prela was appointed as head of the Prosecutor’s Office for Serious Crimes. Attorney General Arta Marku justified this with her plans to speed up sensitive cases. However, Prela was involved in a debate with one of her subordinates in September 2018 regarding the representation of Emiljano Shullazi in court. The evaluation of assets is one of the three criteria used for the vetting of prosecutors along with the assessment of their integrity and professional abilities.