Albanian Media Praise BIRN Corruption Expose

29 Oct 14
Albanian Media Praise BIRN Corruption Expose

An investigation by BIRN Editor Lawrence Marzouk and journalists in Albania and Serbia has been widely republished and praise in the Albanian press and broadcasting media.

BIRN
Tirana

The last investigation was widely republished in Albanian online, print and broadcast media and provided food for thought for local political commentators.

The investigation, “Albanian Telecoms Deal Cost ‘$1m to Buy Off Politicians’, Claim US Businessmen,” revealed that a controversial Bosnian businessman, Damir Fazlic, a fixer with powerful friends in Washington and the Balkans, requested $1m in “investment” from US partners for Albania’s Democratic Party in order to secure a lucrative telecoms contract.

The investigation formed part of a series of hard-hitting stories on Fazlic reported in the last few months by Marzouk and his team, focusing on the businessman’s ties to the former Albanian Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, and his family.

The last investigation was widely republished in Albanian online, print and broadcast media and provided food for thought for local political commentators.

In an editorial in the daily Tema on October 23, publisher Mero Baze called for an official investigation by prosecutors based on the latest report published by BIRN.

“The prosecutors cannot turn a blind eye to the declarations made in a prestigious media outlet by two American citizens,” Baze wrote.

“If the prosecutor’s office will not launch a probe… then it is the prosecutor’s office that should be investigated,” he added.

The investigations into Fazlic are part of a project called “A Paper Trail to Better Governance”, financed by the Austrian Development Agency, aimed at honing investigative journalism in the Balkans, holding officials to account and improving implementation and use of freedom of information laws.

The stories published as part of the project have sparked political debate and have led to calls for investigations into former Albanian premier Berisha and his family.

Reacting to a BIRN investigation, which revealed how the inner circle around Berisha earned millions of euros from suspect land deals with Fazlic, Albanian Socialist MP Erjon Brace called on the tax authorities to launch a probe.

“The tax and money-laundering authorities should verify the transactions of these oligarchs,” Brace wrote on his Facebook page.

“The new evidence is challenging and totally proves the allegations,” he said, referring to BIRN’s report.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)