Kosovars can “no longer plead ignorance” over the extent of mafia crime in the country, writes Krenar Gashi of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).
Thousands recently took part in a peaceful rally against organised crime there following the murder of a prominent police officer – Triumf Riza – in broad daylight in a crowded area of Pristina, remarks Gashi in the 13 September article.
He believes that the murder was “clearly intended to terrify people” and “send a message that crime rules” in Kosovo.
Despite the arrest in this instance of the alleged perpetrator, “there is no feeling that justice is being done” in Kosovo, claims Gashi – with police continually unable to prove the involvement of the businessmen suspected of being behind such acts.
Moreover, hundreds of murder cases remain unsolved, he says, adding that “the police should think hard about why they have not arrested hundreds of other criminals in connection” with such crimes.
Meanwhile, Kosovars are “afraid to pronounce or even write down” the names of the most fearsome gangsters.
Gashi also points to the “inability of the courts to convict the accused,” which is “inspiring and encouraging criminals,” he says. He describes the protesters “symbolically” turning their backs on the courthouse to express their “loss of trust in the state of law, order and justice in Kosovo”.
This is the “first time in Kosovo’s recent history” that people are complaining about the “weak and impotent” judiciary, he states – adding that “many people would still be alive” if it had put the right people in jail.
Gashi claims that “the feeling of rage among the population is overwhelming,” and that this murder “has succeeded in awakening a sense of civic consciousness” more than ever before.
He concludes that Riza’s murder is a “challenge to Kosovo’s institutions” and represents a “chance for Kosovars to decide whether or not they want organised crime to dominate their country”.
Kosovo’s process of restoring justice “needs to start now,” and the criminals must be “named and hunted down,” he adds.