April 6, 2018 / 4:43 PM / in 4 months

Kosovo indicts 11 for giving out state jobs to political loyalists

PRISTINA (Reuters) - Kosovo authorities said on Friday they had indicted 11 people, including a minister and lawmaker from the ruling party, for allegedly handing out state jobs to people based on their political affiliation.

The case is based on wiretaps made in 2011 during an anti-corruption operation by the European Union police and justice mission (EULEX), set up after Kosovo’s 1998-99 independence war to foster rule of law in the former Serbian province.

EU officials say Kosovo’s government, led by ex-guerrillas, has not done enough to purge ingrained corruption and organised crime, often cited as the main obstacle to foreign investment in the impoverished Balkan nation of 1.8 million people.

Almost all of the indictees are members of the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), including Besim Beqaj, the minister for innovation and entrepreneurship, which is in power since 2007.

Prosecutors said that defendants could be heard in wiretapped conversations offering party supporters jobs at state-financed agencies, among them the rail network, courts and universities, water, energy and health companies.

“The indictment has to do with the criminal activities of hiring, sharing official positions based on party affiliations and friendly connections,” prosecutors said in a statement.

Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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