The basis for the lawsuit
The Edil Al-It lawsuit came after Rama had published several critical articles about their involvement in benefiting illegally from public money. The plaintiffs allege that one of the articles damaged the company’s image, and requested that the journalist pay about €110,000 in damages.
Rama stated before the court hearing:
“If we would have a look at the court statistics in cases where journalists are sued, we would see that this lawsuit against me is one of the highest rewards that has ever been requested for damage of this kind. The amount of €110,000 aims not only to put pressure on the journalist but to destroy him definitely.”
However, at the 17 February hearing, Edil Al-It decided it will come up with a smaller amount in damages because only one of the shareholders of the company is represented in the lawsuit, Rama said. The defence is scheduled to be heard on 17 March.
The text in question was published on 8 November 2017 on the Públicus news programme’s Facebook profile. Rama is the author of the article and the director of the programme.
The article recounts that two construction companies won a public bid to renovate the public theatre in Tirana. In it, Rama claims he found out that one of the bid winners had unmet tax obligations.
According to Albanian national law, companies with tax debts cannot benefit from public bids. The journalist based his article on a document containing the logo of the Albanian Ministry of Finance, and the signature of a civil servant.
The document says that Edil Al-It had tax debts. The company is questioning the document, saying that it does not have a stamp.
While the plaintiff confirmed to the judge on 17 February that Edil Al-It had met its tax obligations upon entering the bid, they did not give a clear answer as to whether that had been the case for the period written about in the article, according to Rama.