Exactly one month after ethnic Albanian CEC staff members reported an unpleasant odor emanating from envelopes containing votes from Serbia and experienced health issues such as nausea, skin redness and itching after coming into contact with the envelopes, Kosovo investigating authorities have no explanation as to what caused these problems which led to nine CEC staff members being hospitalized for more than a week at the Infectious Diseases Clinic in the Pristina Hospital Center. In addition to the lack of official information since the incident, the Kosovo prosecution is refusing to disclose to which European laboratory samples have been sent for analysis, as well as when the analysis will be completed.
A month into the investigation and more than three weeks after samples collected from envelopes containing votes from Serbia were sent to a European laboratory for analysis, no further details of the investigation were presented to the public.
Kosovo Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson, Ekrem Lutfiu confirmed for Radio Free Europe that the investigation is ongoing. Lutfiu, however, did not reveal to which laboratory the samples were sent for analysis.
Kosovo investigative authorities announced on October 17th that they had sent samples taken from the Ministry of Infrastructure’s premises where votes from Serbia were verified to „some European country for analysis,“ adding that this was done because Kosovo laboratories could not complete the analysis.
Yet, even before the results of the investigation were released, the CEC ordered the continuation of the verification and counting of disputed votes suspected of causing health issues among the CEC staff on October 23rd.
In addition to the silence of Kosovo’s investigative bodies, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic urged the EU – whose Election Observation Mission said it had closely monitored the voting day and the vote counting process – to comment on the issue on two occasions.
However, this mission, as well as the European Commission, declined to comment on the occasion, stating that they, too, are awaiting the results of the investigation of Kosovo’s investigative bodies.
President Vucic also shared his own explanation of what happened in Pristina a month ago. According to him, a pesticide and cleaning agent were used to provoke such reactions among some officials, all in order to eliminate approximately 3,000 votes from Serbia and lower the census threshold.
According to Vucic, such a scenario was directed against the „inexperienced Kurti“ and in favor of the NISMA-AKR-PD coalition – which remained below the census by some 130 votes. However, if the Supreme Court upholds ECAP’s decision, the coalition would still receive 6 seats in the Kosovo Assembly.
„Everything was done to trick the inexperienced Kurti, above all, him and the people of Vetevendosje (LVV), to think that something is being done against Serbia. And they are always competing in doing something that they think is against Serbia. Yes, yes, poisoning, the crazy Serbs did it to us… when in fact, it was all designed against him,” Vucic said from Paris on Monday.
In addition to the majority of media outlets, who claimed on the day of the incident that the CEC staff had been poisoned by Serbia, despite the lack of official information, the LVV was also one of the parties that presented the same, unverified allegations.
„The state authorities need to investigate the cause of the poisoning as well as the fact that the packages arrived from Serbia in an organized manner. These packages were not mailed as provided by the Election Law, but entered illegally by the Serbian Liaison Office. Such illegally delivered votes must be rejected,“ the party said at the time.
Just one month later, however, the LVV party appealed to the Supreme Court against ECAP’s decision to declare votes from Serbia invalid.
Due to the decision of the Kosovo Election Appeals and Petitions Panel to reject about 3,000 votes from Serbia, the structure of the 7th Assembly of Kosovo Assembly may change as the NISMA-AKR-PD coalition will enter into parliament. If the ECAP decision is implemented and this coalition passes the census, the LVV and LDK, who currently have the required number of votes to form a government themselves (61), will need another partner in their coalition because with the NISMA-AKR-PD entering parliament, the LVV will lose 3 seats and LDK 1 seat.
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