By Benet Koleka
TIRANA (Reuters) – Albania’s parliament elected Olsian Çela as prosecutor general on Thursday as part of judicial reforms sought by the West that are intended to kick out corrupt judges.
The European Union has told Albania the reforms must remain a top priority if it wants to join the bloc and the judiciary should have teeth in the fight against corruption and crime.
In a process monitored by European and U.S. experts, 800 Albanian judges and prosecutors will be vetted in order to flush out corrupt judicial officials and end impunity for politicians. So far, most Supreme and Constitutional Court judges have been fired, prompting many Albanians to say they were right to view the judiciary as corrupt. However, the opposition says the government is trying to exert undue control over the reformed judicial system.
“We welcome the election by the parliament of Mr. Olsian Çela as General Prosecutor,” said Luigi Soreca, the EU’s ambassador to Albania.
As the crime-ridden Balkan nation aspires to join the European Union, Çela will have his work cut out, as the Albanian public, Western partners, the government and opposition are all calling for action against corruption.
Authorities are also investigating whether builders added unlicensed storeys to dwellings toppled by an earthquake that killed 51 people nine days ago.
Çela, 44, speaks four languages and has been trained in Europe and the United States on how to fight organised crime.
(Reporting by Benet Koleka; Editing by Giles Elgood)