EU police raid Kosovo Telecom in corruption probe

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EU and Kosovo police yesterday (16 July) raided four companies suspected of corruption over a mobile phone licence, including Kosovo Telecom, EU rule of law mission EULEX has announced.

Nicholas Hawton, the EU police spokesman in Kosovo, said in a press release yesterday that as many as 60 officers took part in eight searches carried out in Pristina and the western Kosovo town of Pec.

The searches, which included the private residence of the top official at Kosovo Post and Telecom, Shyqyri Haxha, related to "financial and corruption matters in connection to a telecommunications licence," he said.

The EU-led investigation focuses on corruption related to the issuing of a telecoms licence to a privately- owned company.

The deal "is suspected to have taken place under fraudulent circumstances," according to EULEX, which has taken up the mantle in enforcing rule of law in Kosovo in the wake of recommendations from the International Crisis Group that help be provided with internal corruption investigations.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. Despite its recognition by 69 countries, including the US and the majority of EU member states, Belgrade still considers Kosovo as its southern province ahead of an imminent International Court of Justice ruling on its status.

The 3,000-member EULEX mission was launched in December 2008 and has the power to take on cases that the local judiciary and police are unable to handle.

Earlier this week EULEX police also arrested a government official suspected of tax evasion, and Kosovo's transport and telecommunications minister was recently investigated for alleged embezzlement of public funds (EURACTIV 12/05/10).

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