The managing editor of KALLXO.com, a BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova product, Kreshnik Gashi, won the EU first prize for investigative journalism for the year 2023.
His groundbreaking investigation, which unveiled a web of corruption involving prominent businessmen, politicians, and the justice system in Kosovo, earned him the European Union’s prestigious award. The accolade was conferred upon Gashi on Monday in Prishtina.
Gashi’s award-winning work, a series of exposés featured on the program “Kallxo Përnime,” was aptly titled “The Purchase of the Chief Prosecutor.“
“We continue to remain faithful to investigative journalism in an environment that is not good and not easy for journalists, where today both the language of power and the language of the community have turned against journalists, and this is due to several reasons, one of which you can find within this investigation – crime and corruption are linked to politics,” said Gashi during the award ceremony.
In the same vein, Dafina Halili, a journalist at Kosovo 2.0, secured the second prize for her investigation entitled “Ghost Schools, Ghetto Schools, and Segregated Shifts.” Journalist Saranda Ramaj from “Koha Ditore” earned the third prize for her series of investigations into abuses within the Health Fund for treatment abroad.
BIRN’s extensive two-year investigation in November 2022 unraveled a scandal in which it is alleged that 150,000 euros were illicitly disbursed to influence the outcomes of certain cases in Kosovo’s courts. The recordings unequivocally implicated former Appeals Prosecutor Haxhi Dërguti in corrupt activities. Importantly, all the recordings were made in public spaces, making them matters of profound public interest.
Over the course of two consecutive days, portions of the investigation into the suspected corruption case were revealed, implicating individuals from the justice system, political circles, and the business community. Businessman Sali Dakaj alleged that he had transferred 150,000 euros to former Appeals Prosecutor Haxhi Dërguti through intermediaries, Hasan Morina and the suspended Vetëvendosje official Liridon Fandaj, to sway a court case concerning a 3.5 million euro debt in his favor.
Dakaj recounted on Kallxo Përnime how Morina and Fandaj assured him they had “connections capable of turning the case in his favor,” contingent on a payment of 150,000 euros.
Shortly after KALLXO.com published its investigation, the police interviewed Dërguti.
Besim Kelmendi, the Acting Chief Prosecutor of the State, pledged that the Prosecutor’s Office would initiate action in response to the investigation, which laid bare a significant corruption scandal within Kosovo’s justice system. The Special Prosecutor’s Office announced its commitment to taking all necessary investigative measures, in accordance with its legal and constitutional authority, against all individuals implicated in this case.
KALLXO.com, a product of BIRN and Internews Kosova, won the first prize of EU best investigative journalist story for the second year in a row.
21 September 2023 - 12:42
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