Tropoja Court Meets Secretly to Protect Hydropowers

Today, 1 August, TOKA president Catherine Bohne visited the office of the Bailiff in Tropoja, to make sure everything was in order for the planned execution of the 6 June Tirana Appeals Court decision to stop the construction works of Dragobia Energy Hydropower in Valbona Valley National Park.  On 24 July 2018, the Tropoja Bailiff requested the support of local police to enforce the stop work order on 2 August (ie, tomorrow).

The Bailiff wasn’t present, but his assistant said “Oh.  You didn’t get our envelope?”

TOKA president Catherine Bohne went to the post office, and retrieved the letter posted that morning, learning that Dragobia Energy ShPK and parent company Gener 2 had filed a lawsuit in Tropoja Courts, attacking the actions of the Bailiff, Mr. Eduard Mrishaj, and claiming that his execution of the Tirana Court’s decision was illegal.  The Tropoja court met on 31 July (ie, yesterday), without informing the parties to the original lawsuit, and approved an interim measure to stop the actions of the bailiff, pending final decision.  Basically, the court approved an injunction on behalf of the hydropowers against the people’s injunction.

What is the basis for claiming the illegality of a court employee enforcing a court decision?

In their suit filed in Tropoja courts, the companies claim that the judgment to stop the work was made as part of a lawsuit questioning the validity of the construction permit issued to Dragobia Energy in November 2017.  This permit expired in May 2018.  The companies claim that – since the construction permit is no longer valid – no lawsuit concerning it has any validity.

It is true that the construction permit expired in May 2018.  In fact, this means that the company has been working – illegally – without a valid construction permit for the past two months.  TOKA filed criminal charges against this, on 19 July 2018.

The company then argues that they have applied for a construction permit extension, but it has not been approved by KKT (the National Territorial Council), so it is not their fault that they do not have a valid permit.

However, in fact, KKT met on Thursday, 26 July, and awarded 28 new permits but did not award a construction permit to Dragobia Energy.

Therefore: 3 days AFTER KKT apparently decided not to grant a new construction permit to the company, 2 months after the expiration of the contested construction permit, and two months after a court decision to stop the construction works, the companies of Dragobia Energy and Gener 2 are arguing that despite their failure to win in court and despite their failure to obtain a valid permit, they have the right to continue constructing, because – more or less – “someone should have given them a permit but didn’t.”

In reviewing the published decision of the Tropoja court, we see that the judge has simply copy-pasted the arguments of the hydropower companies.  He does not refer to the counter-arguments of the bailiff, and the 27 local people and NGO TOKA, party to the original lawsuit, were neither informed of the suit, called to court, nor informed by the court of their decision.

The Tropoja court proposes giving a final decision by 31 January 2019.  Meaning that the hydropower companies should be left free to continue constructing illegally, without a valid permit, and in direct opposition to Tirana Administrative Appeals court, and in the face of Criminal Charges.

“Here we have a clear example of the kind of nonsense that Tropojan citizens have to deal with every day, every month, every year,” stated TOKA President Catherine Bohne.  “The Dragobia Energy and Gener 2 Hydropower plants are continuing construction in the face of numerous, documented illegalities.  Local people have worked fearlessly, and tirelessly to pursue justice, asking only the fair implementation of Albanian law.  And this is the answer they receive from their own courts:  We will just copy paste the arguments of the companies and uphold their right to continue destroying the Valbona River, never mind that they are now clearly breaking numerous laws, ignoring numerous criminal charges and directly ignoring the decision of Albanian courts.”

Locals and TOKA will move immediately to support the bailiff’s office who will presumably appeal this judgment in Shkoder’s appeals court.

“It is somewhat ironic that this news arrives only a day after courts decided to uphold the decision to cancel the Osum River Hydropowers, using the same arguments as we have used in Valbona,” says Catherine Bohne.  “It looks more and more like Valbona is the test case that will show whether justice reform, and the fair implementation of rule of law is working in Albania, or whether the country will choose to decide that a few rich businessmen should be allowed to do whatever they want, law or no law.”

***

Sot date 1 Gusht, Kryetarja e shoqates TOKA, Catherine Bohne, shkoi tek zyra e permbaruesit ligjor ne Tropoje per t’u siguruar qe gjithcka ishte ne rregull me zbatimin e planifikuar te vendimit te Gjykates se Apelit ne Tirane per te ndaluar punimet e ndertimeve te Hec-eve nga Dragobia Energy ne Parkun Kombetar te Lugines se Valbones.

Me 24 Korrik 2018, permbaruesi i Tropojes kerkoi mbeshtetjen e policise lokale per te zbatuar ligjin per ndalimin e punimeve me 2 Gusht (dmth neser).

Permbaruesi nuk ishte i pranishem, por asistenti i tij tha: ” Po a nuk e keni marre zarfin qe ju kemi derguar?”

Kryetarja e TOKA, Catherine Bohne, shkoi tek zyra postare dhe mori letren e derguar ate mengjes, ku mesoj se Dragobia Energy Shpk dhe kompania Gener2 kishin dorezuar nje padi ne Gjykaten e Tropojes ku kundershtonin veprimet e permbaruesit zotit Eduard Mrishaj dhe ku pretendohej se zbatimi i tij i ardhur nga vendimi i Gjykates se Tiranes ishte i paligjshem.

Gjykata e Tropojes u mblodh me date 31 Korrik (dmth dje), pa dijenin e paleve per padine e vertete, dhe miratoi nje mase te perkohshme per te ndaluar veprimet e metejshme te permbaruesit, duke pezulluar vendimin perfundimtar.

Praktikisht, gjykata aprovoi nje urdher qe eshte ne favor te Hec-eve, por kunder kerkesave te banoreve.

Me cfare logjike pretendohet paligjshmeria e veprimit te nje punonjesi gjykate qe zbaton nje vendim te saj?

Ne padine e tyre te ngritur ne Gjykaten e Tropojes, kompanite pretendojne se vendimi per te ndaluar punimet eshte marre si pjese e padise qe vendos ne pikepyetje vlefshmerine e lejes se ndertimit te leshuar per Dragobia Energy ne Nentor te 2017-es.

Kjo leje skadoi ne Maj te 2018-es. Kompanite pretendojne se meqe leja e ndertimit nuk eshte me e vlefshme, atehere asnje padi ne lidhje me kete rast nuk eshte e vlefshme.

Eshte e vertete se leja e ndertimit skadoi ne Maj te 2018-es. Ne fakt, kjo do te thote se kompania ka qene duke punuar ilegalisht, pa nje leje ndertimi te vlefshme per dy muajt e fundit. Shoqata TOKA ngriti akuza penale kunder ketij rasti me date 19 Korrik 2018-te. Pas kesaj kompania argumentoi se ajo kishte aplikuar per nje shtyrje te lejes se ndertimit por qe nuk eshte miratuar nga KKT (Keshilli Kombetar i Territorit), pra nuk eshte faji i tyre qe ata nuk kane nje leje te vlefshme. Faktikisht, KKT u mblodh te enjten me 26 Korrik dhe leshoi 28 leje te reja por askund nuk permendej emri i Dragobia Energy.

Prandaj: 3 dite pasi KKT me sa duket vendosi qe te mos i jepte nje leje te re ndertimi kompanise, 2 muaj pas skadimit te lejes se kontestuar te ndertimit, dhe 2 muaj pas vendimit te gjykates per te ndaluar punimet e ndertimit, kompania e Dragobia Energy dhe Gener2 pohojne se pavaresisht deshtimit per te fituar ne gjykate si dhe per te marre nje leje te vlefshme, ata kane te drejten qe te vazhdojne ndertimet sepse, pak a shume, “dikush duhet t’jua kishte dhene lejen por nuk ka ndodhur keshtu.” Gjate rishikimit te vendimit te publikuar te Gjykates se Tropojes, ne verejme se gjykatesi thjesht i ka bere copy-paste argumenteve te kompanive te Hec-eve.

Ai nuk u referohet kunder-argumenteve te permbaruesit. Njekohesisht, 27 banoret lokal dhe Shoqata TOKA, palet e padise se vertete, as nuk jane informuar per padine, as thirrur ne gjykate dhe aq me pak te jene informuar nga gjykata per vendimin e marre.

Gjykata e Tropojes propozon dhenien e nje vendimi perfundimetar me 31 Janar 2019-te. Si rrjedhoje, kompanite e Hec-eve lihen te lira qe te vazhdojne ndertimin ilegal pa nje leje te vlefshme, dhe ne nje kundershtim te hapur me Gjykaten Administrative te Apelit ne Tirane, si dhe perballe akuzave penale te ngritura.

“Ketu ne kemi te bejme me nje shembull konkret te iracionalitetit me te cilin qytetaret e Tropojes perballen cdo dite, muaj dhe vit,” tha Kryetarja e TOKA, Catherine Bohne.

“Kompanite e Hec-eve, Dragobia Energy dhe Gener2, jane duke vazhduar ndertimet pavaresisht paligjshmerive te shumta te dokumentuara.

Banoret lokal kane punuar sypatrembur dhe pa pushim per te vene drejtesi, duke kerkuar vetem zbatimin e drejte te ligjit shqipetar.

Dhe kjo eshte pergjigjia qe marrin si shperblim nga gjykatat e tyre: Ne thjesht do t’ju bejme copy-paste argumenteve te kompanise dhe do te perkrahim te drejten e tyre per te vazhduar shkaterrimin e Lumit te Valbones, ska rendesi qe ata tani po shkelin haptas disa ligje me rralle, duke shperfillur disa akuza penale dhe njekohesisht vendimin e gjykatave shqipetare.” Banoret lokal dhe TOKA do t’i ofrojne mbeshtetje te menjehershme zyres se permbaruesit, i cili me shume gjasa do te apeloje kete vendim tek Gjykata e Apelit ne Shkoder.

“Si per ironi te fatit, ky lajm vjen nje dite pasi gjykata vendosi qe te perkrah vendimin per te anulluar ndertimin e Hec-eve ne Lumin e Osumit, duke perdorur te njejtat argumente sic i kemi perdorur edhe ne per kauzen e Valbones,” shprehet Catherine Bohne.

Cdo here e me shume duket sikur Valbona eshte nje rast prove qe do te tregoje nese reforma ne drejtesi dhe zbatimi i drejte i ligjit eshte duke funksionuar sic duhet ne shqiperi, apo nese njerzit do te zgjedhin qe disa biznesmen te pasur te bejne si t’ju doje qejfi, duke perdorur menyra te ligjshme apo te paligjshme.”

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