International review Investigation

Top judge quits EU Kosovo mission, alleging corruption

Kosovo Albanians walks by a grafiti, reading "Eulex made in Serbia," in the Kosovar capital of Pristina on December 8, 2008.The EU agreed in February 2008 to send the 2,000-strong EULEX mission to Kosovo to gradually replace a United Nations operation and oversee the police, judiciary and customs. The UN Security Council last week gave a green light to the planned EU mission, which is likely to start its operation in Kosovo on December 9, 2008 under the UN umbrella. Source: Armend Nimani/AFP/Getty Images.

This material belongs to: Politico.

‘I don’t want to be a part of this farce any more,’ Malcolm Simmons says.

The chief judge at an EU organization tasked with improving the rule of law in Kosovo quit and accused other senior members of the mission of corruption and malpractice, Le Monde reported Thursday.

Malcolm Simmons, a British national, said he had denounced “several cases of corruption at the heart of the mission” in recent weeks. He also said the organization, known as EULEX, was subject to political interference.

In an interview with Le Monde, Simmons accused a fellow judge of hacking his email account and sharing his emails with other judges. He also accused the British Foreign Office and the EU of failing to act on his warnings about corruption.

In Brussels, EU foreign policy spokeswoman Maja Kocijančič said: “The EU as well as EULEX operate a zero-tolerance policy towards allegations of inappropriate behavior and all mission members are accountable for their actions.”

Without commenting on ongoing investigations, Kocijancic said: “All allegations … are investigated and, as appropriate, referred to a disciplinary board. Such policy applies irrespective of position in the mission; also to [the] president of EULEX judges.”

The 800-person mission is charged with improving Kosovo’s judicial and legal systems, by supplying international judges and prosecutors for important cases and mentoring local officials. But Simmons said the mission’s real goal was political.

“EULEX is not a mission meant to promote the rule of law. It is a political mission. Anyone who thinks otherwise is naive, stupid,” he said, alleging he had come under pressure to convict a Kosovo politician because the mission did not want him to stand in elections.

Simmons also claimed he wrote to the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini twice to complain about corruption at the mission, but got no response. “For me, this clearly shows how the European Union deals with corruption … they want to suppress the affair.”

“They do nothing,” Simmons said, referring to the EU. “I do not want to be a part of this farce anymore.”