PRISTINA (Reuters) - A former government minister is among seven Kosovo Albanians charged with corruption by a European Union prosecutor, officials said on Friday.
The charges against Fatmir Limaj came more than two years after EU police and justice (EULEX) officers raided his ministry of transport and telecommunications (MTPT) in search of evidence.
Limaj is deputy president of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci’s ruling Democratic Party (PDK) and a close ally. Kosovo is under pressure from the EU and other international bodies to do more to fight crime and corruption.
Limaj headed the ministry from 2008, when Kosovo gained independence from Serbia, to 2010. The ministry was in charge of building roads and a motorway linking Kosovo with Albania.
EULEX said in a statement the seven were accused “of manipulating tender procedures, giving and receiving bribes and obstructing evidence in relation to three tenders in the MTPT for personal and/or material benefit”.
Other charges involve money laundering, EULEX said. The damage to the ministry was estimated at around 2 million euros ($2.6 million), it said.
The U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague acquitted Limaj in 2005. In 2011, Limaj was indicted by EULEX on similar war crimes charges but was acquitted after the case collapsed following the suicide of the central prosecution witness.
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Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; editing by Zoran Radosavljevic