Opposition demands probe into alleged vote-buying practices

Dibra rejects accusations by the SP official as defamatory and calls on justice institutions to unveil the truth.

The opposition Socialist Party says it has filed an official request asking that the Tirana Prosecutor’s Office start an investigation against Gazemend Dibra, the director general of Albania’s prison system and an MP candidate for the ruling Democratic Party in Tirana, for his alleged involvement in vote buying just days ahead of the June 23 general election.

The request, filed by Saimir Tahiri, the head of the opposition Socialist Party for Tirana, calls on the chief prosecutor to launch investigations into Dibra’s activities based on video footage aired on June 11 by Top Channel TV’s Fiks Fare investigative program. The footage, the request says, shows Dibra’s involvement in the distribution of food packages in return for votes to the ruling Democratic Party.

“The distribution of these packages was carried out in trade units that had no connection with the trade of food products,” Tahiri writes in his letter to prosecutors. “The direct involvement of the sued candidate is proved by video footage showing his presence in the trade unit and the communication with organizers of this illegal activity.”

Tahiri added statements by two citizens show how the vote-buying scheme worked in return to food items. Media reports indicated the food package would cost about 20 dollars at market prices.

The Socialist Party says Dibra has violated article 328 of the Albanian Criminal Code which envisages six months to two years of imprisonment for offering rewards or job promises in return for votes.

Dibra rejected accusations by the SP official as defamatory and called on justice institutions to unveil the truth.

“I am convinced such fabrication by the head of the Socialist Party for Tirana are based in the feeling sweeping the SP that they are headed for electoral defeat,” Dibra said in a statement earlier this week.

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Posted in Elections 2013
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