Expertise in favor of those accused of vote manipulation

The expertise of the Kosovo Agency for Forensics has refuted the prosecution's claim that two photographs show former LDK MP Shkumbin Gashi and the accused Sylë Balaj filling out ballots for the diaspora. In the session held on Wednesday, an expert summoned by the court emphasized that the photographs were not taken during the year when the elections were held

The photographs in which, according to the prosecution, the former deputy Shkumbin Gashi and the accused Sylë Balaj are seen, filling out ballots, do not belong to the time of the elections, a report of the expertise of the Kosovo Agency for Forensics has concluded.

When the case was close to the final, the Basic Court in Pristina reopened the trial against the two accused for misuse of 72 votes of diaspora citizens. He did this because the defense requested expertise of the photographs that the prosecution presented as evidence.
The accusations are related to the 2021 elections and the expert in the field of information technology, Betim Shala, said that the photographs were not taken that year.

"We found that the first photo image... was taken with a phone camera. The phone type 'Samsung', while the shooting date is on February 23, 2020 at 17:49 and 19 seconds, while the second photo image was taken with a camera or type of phone 'Samsung' on February 23, 2020 at 17:49 and 33 seconds", said expert Shala.

The expert Shala answered the judge of the case, Musa Konxheli, and said that the date the photos were taken was found through forensic equipment and that it is the date when it was taken and not when it was transferred from the "Samsung" phone to the "Iphone".

The defense asked the prosecution to withdraw from the charges after the disclosure of the findings of the Forensics. The prosecution requested that the court clarify whether the main examination will be completely reopened or whether the testimony of the witness of the Central Election Commission will only be heard. 
The president of the trial body, Musa Konxheli, said that the trial is expected to continue beyond these testimonies.

"It may happen that new proposals arise, then we will again ask the parties if they want to declare after questioning these two witnesses and we will come to the final word - if you stay the same, say that you stay back," he said. Conxeli said.

In December 2022, the Special Prosecutor's Office filed an indictment against eight people for the criminal offenses "Misuse of the right to vote" and "Identity theft and access device". Five of them have admitted their guilt and have been sentenced to conditional imprisonment, for one the procedure has been separated, while for Gashi and Blakaj the judicial process is continuing. 

The prosecution claims that the ballots of Kosovo citizens in the diaspora were downloaded from the CEC website by misusing their data, then being sent by bus to Austria, to be returned as diaspora votes.