By Fatmir Aliu
Constitutional court clarification that MPs do not enjoy immunity from prosecution removes an important bar preventing EU police from arresting former minister.
Fatmir Limaj’s chances of being arrested rose yesterday after Kosovo’s Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday that parliamentarians are not immune from prosecution if sought by the law.
The ruling raises the prospect that former transport minister may now be arrested on corruption charges related to his time as minister.
The government of Kosovo had earlier submitted a request to the Constitutional Court seeking clarification on whether MPs enjoyed immunity from prosecution.
The Court ruled that deputies “are not immune from criminal prosecution for actions taken or decisions made outside the scope of their responsibilities. This is applicable both with regard to prosecution for criminal acts allegedly committed prior to the beginning of their mandate and during the course of their mandate as deputies”.
A press release issued by the Constitutional Court said the decision was taken unanimously.
The Court also clarified that “A deputy may be arrested or detained while performing his/ her duties, that is, at plenary meetings of the Assembly and/or of its committees, following a decision of the Assembly”.
The European Union rule-of-law mission to Kosovo, EULEX, in March issued an arrest warrant for Limaj, who is currently a member of parliament for the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, which is led by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.
A EULEX spokesperson, Nicholas Hawton, told Balkan Insight that the arrest warrant remained valid.
“We’re digesting and considering what has been reported, and we take note that the judgment does not become effective until publication in the Official Gazette,” Hawton said.
Limaj was questioned Tuesday for more than six hours by EULEX prosecutors. He is suspected of misusing millions of euro during his time as Minister of Transport and Telecommunications. The investigation started 18 months ago.
His lawyer, Tahir Rrecaj, told reporters after the end of the grilling that “the prosecution has no basis to support its suspicions.”
As for the Constitutional Court decision, Rrecaj said that his client “had not yet officially received the decision, and as such I can’t comment on it”.
Limaj faces further questioning on Wednesday by EULEX prosecutors.