Azem Syla. | Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

Identity of protected witness disclosed in ‘Toka’ case

The EULEX prosecutor that drafted the indictment for the Toka case tells BIRN that one of two witnesses named in the opening court session today was under protection.

On Tuesday at the Basic Court of Prishtina, the names of two witnesses were publicly disclosed in the opening session of the ‘Toka’ case by Kosovo Special Prosecutor Naim Abazi, who despite referring to them as “protected witnesses,” has revealed their identity.

The names of the witnesses are known to BIRN but have not been made public, as their publication would violate the Law on the Protection of Personal Data.

Contacted by BIRN, Special Prosecutor Abazi said that he is not aware whether either of the witnesses named is protected. Meanwhile the presiding judge in the case, Beqir Kalludra, refused to explain whether mentioning the names publicly was a violation of the law.

BIRN contacted EULEX prosecutor Danilo Ceccarelli, who drafted the 264-page indictment for the Toka case in 2016 before handing it over to local authorities in 2018. In his response to BIRN, Ceccarelli said that, for one of the named parties, “the witness is under protection, there are protection rulings issued by the judges and he’s in the protection program.”

The Toka case centers around Azem Syla, nicknamed Daja (Uncle), who, according to the indictment (obtained by Prishtina Insight back in 2016), is accused of being the leader of a well-structured criminal group which falsified documents, appropriated lands, bribed officials, and laundered money, 

In 2016, Kosovo’s Special Prosecution notified the public that they have raised two indictments against 39 people in the case, including former Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, MP and former Kosovo Liberation Army commander, Syla.

The first indictment, submitted by an international prosecutor of the Special Prosecution Office, was raised against 22 defendants, including Syla, and contains 46 charges. The defendants are accused of the following criminal offenses: organized crime, money laundering, accepting bribes, aggravated fraud, fraud on duty, issuing illegal court decisions, abuse of official duty, legalizing falsified content, and fiscal evasion.

In December 2016 Azem Syla declared that he was not guilty of the charges. He was released from detention by the Basic Court of Prishtina in March 2018, having been held since October 2016.

25/06/2019 - 20:15

25 June 2019 - 20:15

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.