Letter to Governor Ridge re: Damir Fazlic


Date: Wednesday, October 08 @ 14:31:10 PDT
Topic: Albania News


    Read inside:
  • Kosta Trebicka's death - by Gary Q Kokalari
  • Speculation Surrounds Case of Albanian Whistle-Blower’s Death - The New York Times

    Governor Tom Ridge
    Thomas Ridge, LLC
    1101 16th Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20036


    Governor Ridge,

    Below is a link to a recent report that Damir Fazlic was arrested in Bosnia on racketeering charges
    Gary Q. Kokalari - Political Analyst
    and there are also claims he was under investigation for fraud. I recall seeing Fazlic hanging out at the Tirana Sheraton in 2005, and at that time he was there as part of a team from Barbour, Griffith & Rodgers (BGR), the Washington lobbying/political consulting firm that was advising Sali Berisha on his election campaign.

    By Gary Q Kokalari,Political analyst - sent exclusively to ACLIS

    You will find below links to articles in Shekulli, a well known Albanian newspaper, that include photographs of you in meetings with Damir Fazlic, former Defense Minister Fatmir Mediu, Foreign Minister Lulzim Basha, and Prime Minister Sali Berisha. Based on your position at the table with Fazlic and my experience with high level meetings in Albania, one could easily assume you participated in that meeting as a colleague of Fazlic.

    Since the photo of Fazlic and you was taken, Mediu, who I have repeatedly warned you has an unsavory reputation, was forced to resign his position and he is under investigation for the Gerdec explosion and the illegal AEY arms deal with the Pentagon that defrauded U.S. taxpayers. Basha, who you personally escorted around Washington, is being investigated on charges of corruption, and it has been reported in the Albanian press that Basha's brother-in-law has some form of business relationship with Fazlic. It has also been reported that Basha's father-in-law was an official with the Vefa pyramid scheme.

    There have also been reports in Albania that Shkelzen Berisha, Sali's son, and Milhal Delijorgji met with Fazlic in Bosnia in conjunction with an arms deal. As you are aware, Delijorgji was given the AEY repackaging contract (to remove the Chinese markings) and also was awarded the demil project at Gerdec, the site of the explosion that killed 26 people. It was also reported that Fazlic has some form of relationship with Henry Thomet, the Swiss national who The New York Times reported was alleged to be an intermediary in the AEY deal via Evdin, a Cyprus-based company believed to be owned by Thomet. You may recall that AEY President Efraim Diveroli alleged that Thomet functioned as a financial conduit for corrupt, senior Albanian government officials, and he made these claims during a recorded telephone conversation with Kosta Trebicka, who died in Albania in "an accident" about two weeks ago under mysterious circumstances.

    Given these developments, it would be appreciated if you could answer several questions:

    1. Did Fazlic and/or BGR provide any assistance to you with regard to securing your $500,000 consulting fee from the Albanian government?

    2. Were you and/or Fazlic in any way involved in any arms related contracts with the Albanian government?

    3. Were you and/or Fazlic involved with any Albanian government privatizations including, but not limited to, ARMO?



    4. Were you and/or Fazlic in any way involved in the no-bid road building contract that was awarded to Bechtel?

    Your response to these questions would be appreciated.

    Please be advised that this message has been copied to undisclosed recipients.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Gary Q. Kokalari

    For more information click
    Shekulli click here.

    Kosta Trebicka's death, Teter and NYT

    October 7, 2008

    Ambassador John L. Withers
    U.S. Embassy
    Tirana, Albania
    Ambassador Withers,

    The declaration that the "American investigator" Kevin Teter has determined that Kosta Trebicka's death was an "accident" appears to raise more questions than it answers, such as:

    1. What, if any, was the nature of Mr. Teter's inspection of the vehicle and the scene of the accident, and did he make any attempt to reconstruct the accident at the scene of Trebicka's death?

    2. Even if one assumes that Teter's assessment that Trebicka's car was involved in an accident, was he in the position to conclude that Trebicka wasn't being pursued by an attacker? Can he confirm Trebicka was in the car when the accident occurred?

    3. It's my understanding that Mr. Teter is employed by the Virginia State Police - not the FBI as was reported in Albania, and your Embassy should immediately provide clarification on this point. If he is not a U.S. government employee, given the fact that Kosta Trebicka was a material witness in U.S. government investigations into the AEY arms deal, and given the many incongruous aspects of the "accident", why weren't any representatives of U.S. government investigative agencies included in this investigation? What role, if any, did your Embassy play in introducing Teter to Albanian government officials?

    4. It is also my understanding that Mr. Teter did not examine Kosta Trebicka's body. Furthermore, to my knowledge, he is not a doctor of pathology. So how is it possible Mr. Teter could render any determination about the cause of Kosta's death?

    Given the circumstances of Kosta Trebicka's death, given Kosta's role in exposing the AEY deal, given the fact that there are several parties to the AEY scandal who had clear motives to seek retribution against Kosta (including Sali Berisha, Fatmir Mediu and Milhal Delijorgji), given the allegation Congressman Waxman has made about your role in the AEY matter, given the fact the Albanian doctors who conducted the autopsy on behalf of the Berisha government are known sycophants of Sali Berisha, and given the continuing suspicion about the cause of Kosta's death as reported in The New York Times (see article below), the U.S. government has a vested interest in bringing full closure to this matter so that there can be no lingering doubt. To this end, your Embassy should demand that the Berisha government exhume Kosta Trebicka's grave and arrange for a highly reputable and recognized pathologist to travel to Albania for the purpose of making an objective and expert determination of the cause of Kosta's death. You should also request the direct participation of the Department of Justice in this process.

    Anything less than the type of discovery I have suggested will only perpetuate the common belief that Kosta Trebicka was murdered and foster the perception that the "investigation" conducted thus far was little more than a white-wash. If you permit this travesty to occur, you will commit a great injustice to the people of Albania who look to your Embassy as a guiding light. But more important, you will commit a greater injustice to the people you represent - American taxpayers - who need to know if the whistle-blower who reordered Defense Department procurement for their benefit was murdered for exposing the truth.

    Respectfully,

    Gary Q. Kokalari

    Speculation Surrounds Case of Albanian Whistle-Blower’s Death

    By NICHOLAS KULISH

    BERLIN — The investigation into the death of a whistle-blower in Albania appears to be nearing its conclusion, but with little hope of quelling the suspicion and speculation surrounding the case.

    The whistle-blower, Kosta Trebicka, uncovered evidence of public corruption in the export of ammunition from the Communist era. His accusations were followed by arrests in Albania and charges against the employees of an arms-dealing company in the United States, but only after an explosion at a munitions facility in the town of Gerdec killed 26 people, including children.

    Mr. Trebicka, 48, a witness in the investigation into the explosion, a national tragedy in Albania, was found dead last month on a rural roadside near his car.

    The inquiry into his death has been anything but routine. Thousands joined an opposition-party
    Mr. Kosta Trebicka died accidentally or was killed. He was a key courageous witness who has denounced the heavy illegal smuggling of ammunitions by Prime Minister's Sali Berisha Clan
    industry figure who was helping prosecutors investigate a weapons sale to the United States and an explosion that killed 26 people.

    demonstration calling for a fair investigation. A car accident expert from the Virginia State Police, Kevin J. Teter, was called in to assist the investigation and has become a household name in Albania.

    Leaks to news media outlets in Albania suggest that Mr. Teter concluded in his report to local prosecutors that Mr. Trebicka had died in a car crash, a finding that has been strongly questioned in the same local media.

    Whether Mr. Trebicka’s death was a result of an accident or something more sinister, the public reaction has revealed how little faith the people of this small, poor European country have in their authorities after enduring decades of Stalinist repression followed by years of everyday corruption.

    The deadly blast and ensuing corruption investigation, and then the sudden death of a major witness, raise questions for allies like the United States, which have strongly backed Albania’s bid for NATO membership. The European Union, too, has been working to build up institutions and civil society in Albania for possible membership down the road.

    Marjana Papa, executive director of Transparency International Albania, a nonprofit anticorruption organization, said the problem of corruption should not be underestimated. “It is not just petty corruption of people giving bribes,” she said. “It is a systemic problem.”

    Though the government has stepped up pressure to prosecute some corruption cases, the problem has persisted, and much of the drive for reform has come from outside the country, especially from the European Union.

    But compared with the anarchy of the late 1990s, after the collapse of pyramid investment schemes that robbed thousands of Albanians of their life savings, the country is far more stable. The European Union has worked extensively with the Albanian government on laws to reform the police force, public procurement and the judiciary.

    “The overall assessment of the European Commission is clearly that there has been progress, but that much, much more progress is needed in the future,” said Helmuth Lohan, leader of the European Commission’s delegation to Albania.

    But Mr. Trebicka’s death has damaged trust in an already shaky legal system. “People are nervous because of this, and it’s hurting other cases because people won’t testify,” said a member of the legal community in Albania who did not have permission to speak publicly about the problem. “Whatever happened, I don’t know, but there are signs that people are becoming hesitant to testify, and because Albanian investigations and trials are weak to begin with, this is a real problem.”

    A spokeswoman for the general prosecutor’s office in Tirana, the Albanian capital, said that Mr. Trebicka had “never presented to the office of the general prosecution any concerns about the safety of his life related to the case,” according to a written answer to questions submitted to the office.

    Three people remain under arrest in the investigation into the munitions trading and the explosion at the disassembly plant, according to the spokeswoman. The former defense minister, Fatmir Mediu, has been stripped of his immunity, but has not yet been charged with a crime, according to the statement.

    “How could you leave such an important witness without protecting him, without following him?” asked Eduard Shalsi, deputy mayor of Tirana, and a member of the opposition Socialists. Mr. Shalsi knew Mr. Trebicka and saw him two days before his death. “We have an obligation to the guy who had the courage to come forward.”

    Mr. Trebicka had told friends and reporters repeatedly that he feared for his safety after blowing the whistle on the operation.

    Mr. Trebicka provided The New York Times and American investigators with evidence that AEY Inc., an American company, had bought aging Chinese cartridges and repackaged them in unmarked boxes to obscure their origin so they could be sold for Afghanistan’s army and police forces. Federal prosecutors in Miami have charged AEY executives with illegally selling Chinese ammunition to the United States Army for distribution in Afghanistan.

    The company hired Mr. Trebicka, a local Albanian businessman, to do the repackaging. He said he had suspected that money from the sale of the ammunition was being diverted to Albanian officials, including Mr. Mediu, and the director of the Albanian arms export agency, Ylli Pinari.

    Mr. Trebicka said that after he raised his concerns with the Defense Ministry, he lost the contract. He recorded a phone call with AEY’s president, Efraim E. Diveroli, in which Mr. Diveroli said the corruption went all the way up to the Albanian prime minister, Sali Berisha, and his son. Local news media reported that a former bodyguard of Mr. Berisha’s, now at the Interior Ministry, played a major role in the investigation.

    Calls and e-mail messages to a spokesman for the prime minister were not answered. An official at the Ministry of Interior referred all inquiries to the local prosecutors, who refused to comment except to say that a report could be out as soon as the end of the week.

    After Mr. Trebicka’s death, Albanian authorities asked for technical assistance through the United States Embassy. According to Sgt. Les Tyler, Mr. Teter’s supervisor at the Virginia State Police, Mr. Teter would not comment on the case, but the sergeant confirmed Mr. Teter’s participation. “He assisted with the investigation and also reviewed what they had investigated so far,” Sergeant Tyler said. “My understanding is our services have been completed in this case.”

    A daily newspaper, Gazeta Shqiptare, printed an Albanian translation of what the paper said was Mr. Teter’s report, obtained from the police in Korce. The article said that Mr. Trebicka’s car had flipped over, throwing him out of the vehicle.

    “People did not believe the government during the time of Hoxha,” said Elsa Ballauri, who leads the nonprofit Albanian Human Rights Group in Tirana, referring to the country’s Stalinist dictator, Enver Hoxha, who died in 1985. “It is normal not to believe.”

Published by ACLIS oct.8, 2008





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