Kosovo prosecutor investigates president's ally for political favouritism

August 26, 2016 11:11 AM EDT

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By Fatos Bytyci

PRISTINA (Reuters) - An ally of Kosovo's president is under investigation for allegedly granting jobs at state institutions and companies to people based on their political affiliation, Kosovo's prosecutor said on Friday.

The investigation of Adem Grabovci is based on evidence from phone taps made in 2011 during an anti-corruption operation by the European Union police and justice mission, known as EULEX.

EULEX did not file any charges, but later 1,200 tapes leaked to the investigative news portal insajderi.com.

Grabovci at the time of the phone taps was head of the parliamentary caucus of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), then led by Hashim Thaci, who was elected president in 2016.

"Since 2011 he (Grabovci) used his position and official authority to ensure political power and influence on decision making on Kosovo's government agencies and public enterprises," Kosovo's state prosecutor said in a statement.

It said Grabovci is being investigated in two counts for employing people based on their "political affiliation.”

In the conversations, Grabovci could be heard offering party supporters jobs at state-financed agencies, among them the rail network, courts and universities, water, energy and health companies.

Government remains the single largest employer in Kosovo. The country's deep-rooted crime and corruption are often cited as the main obstacle to attracting foreign investors.

EULEX was deployed in Kosovo in 2008 to handle cases of war crimes, organized crime and corruption deemed too sensitive or complex for Kosovo's own judiciary.

Grabovci was not available for comment. He has resigned as the head of the PDK parliamentarians group but remains a member of the parliament and his party.

(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Ivana Sekularac, Larry King)

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