May 18, 2009
Former Albanian Minister of Labor Indicted for Mishandling Funds Aimed for NGO
Former Albanian Minister of Labor, Kosta Barka, has been indicted on charges of abuse of power for the mishandling of public funds for Albanian children caught in family vendettas. Prosecutors accuse Barka of mishandling funds and donations aimed for an NGO that ran a school for children of families caught in blood feuds, in the town of Polican, close to the city of Berat. The ancient vendetta code of the Kanun still holds sway in some remote areas in Northern Albania, producing conflict between families, often resulting in them barricading themselves in their houses for years. The center in Polican hosted children from these families in order to provide them with an education. An investigation by local media in January showed that children hosted in the rehabilitation center were malnourished and badly fed. A subsequent government investigation showed that the NGO running the center was not licensed. The ex-minister is accused of granting public and donor funds to the unlicensed NGO, which mishandled them.
Barka is the third minister of the centre-right government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha, indicted on abuse of power related charges. Although voted in by the current centre-right majority, Albania’s General Prosecutor Ina Rama has come under almost daily attack by government officials or pro-government media, for investigating high level corruption within the government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha.
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