Favoritism of Lawyers: Municipality of Suhareka

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On Sept. 8 2013, “Justice in Kosovo” discussed favoritism of lawyers in the Municipality of Suhareka.

Two judges from Suhareka, Robert Tunaj and Shaban Zeqiraj, were accused of favoritism. The two lawyers were roommates during their college years. The Disciplinary Prosecution’s Office is investigating the case based on a lawyer’s complaints who claims that the judges obliged that the parties she was defending to change the lawyer, and accelerated the cases of their friends.

Three parties that were defended by the lawyer Sabrije Sylaj submitted complaints against two judges of the Basic Court of Suhareka. In these complaints, the parties declared that the judges asked them to change the lawyer, so Sabrije Sylaj could not defend them.

In one of the cases, which had to do with the proof of ownership, Judge Zeqiraj urgently recommended to Aziz Kabashaj to change his lawyer if he wanted his case to be solved. The judge recommended the lawyer Besim Kuci, who was one of the preferred lawyers of Judge Zeqiraj. However, Kabashaj died before his case was closed and he did not change the lawyer. Sylaj always defended him.

Kabashaj left a written statement that was proved in court on April 18, 201, which showed the conversation that he had with the judge Shaban Zeqiraj:

“When Zeqiraj asked me who prepared the charges and found out that my lawyer was Sabrije Sylaj, he shouted saying that Sylaj knows nothing.”

According to the letter that Kabashaj left, Judge Zeqiraj told him to contact Kuci: “He is my friend and he is the best in this field,” according to the letter.

Kabashaj asked Kuci to defend him, but as soon as Kuci found out that the authorized lawyer was his colleague Sylaj, he refused to defend him.

Zeqiraj denied the Sylaj’s claims and he said that what she said is not true at all: “If only one lawyer accepts this fact, then I am ready to resign from the judge’s position,” said Zeqiraj.

However, Kuci’s name and his number were written on a piece of paper that was given to Kabashaj by the Zeciraj. Sylaj claims that with this piece of paper was given to Kabashaj so he could change lawyers.

Zeqiraj denies this claim: That paper was written by me, but that was not the purpose of this letter.”  

In addition, Justice in Kosovo saw two of Sylaj’s cases with the number 65/12 and 85/13. The first one was submitted in September 2012, and the second one in February 2013. Both of the cases are related to divorce, and Sylaj claims that they were not addressed until May of 2013.

Sylaj compares her cases to the other lawyer’s cases and she says that her cases are purposely postponed. According to Sylaj, a case that was defended by the lawyers Durak Fandaj and Natal Bullakaj was finished within 10 days. Fandaj confirmed that this case was finished faster.

Natal Bullakaj confirms that Judge Tunaj is his friend and that they were roommates during the university years, but he also said that he never took advantage of that.

Finally, in another case which is related to family rights, Judge Zeqiraj told the party Aferdita Bajraktari not to contact Sylaj. In a letter that was confirmed in court on January 11, 2013, Bajraktari complained about Judge Zeqiraj. According to Bajraktari, Zeqiraj said: “Do not engage in the lawyer Sylaj to defend you, otherwise I will never finish your case”.