November 10, 2014 / 5:59 PM / in 3 years

Prosecutor at center of EU graft scandal in Kosovo says to sue

British prosecutor Maria Bamieh is pictured in Pristina November 5, 2014. REUTERS/Hazir Reka

PRISTINA (Reuters) - A prosecutor with the European Union’s foreign mission in Kosovo said on Monday she would sue the mission, accusing it of victimizing her as a whistleblower after she voiced suspicion of corruption in its highest ranks.

Maria Bamieh is at the center of a scandal over allegations the mission, tasked with promoting the rule of law in the young Balkan state, covered up evidence of bribe-taking by senior staff in cases of murder and corruption.

Bamieh, a 55-year-old Briton, had worked for the mission since its deployment in Kosovo in 2008, one of dozens of foreign prosecutors and judges handling cases of war crimes, organized crime and corruption deemed too sensitive or complex for Kosovo’s own judiciary.

The mission, known as EULEX, has dismissed the accusations of a cover-up and says an investigation has been going on since 2013. Bamieh was suspended on Oct. 24 on suspicion of leaking documents to the press in support of her accusations.

“I am going to go to the European Court of Justice,” Bamieh told reporters in Pristina, saying she had been victimized as a whistleblower.

The controversy has already done untold damage to the EU’s biggest and most expensive mission beyond its own borders.

The bloc’s new foreign policy chief, Italy’s Federica Mogherini, said on Monday she had appointed law professor Jean Paul Jasque to investigate the case.

The mission’s head, Gabriele Meucci, said in a statement: “This review is consistent with my wish to apply a zero tolerance policy towards corruption.”

Western diplomats say EULEX has long struggled to stamp its authority on Kosovo, where ethnic Albanian former guerrilla fighters are in power, witness intimidation is rife and clan loyalties frequently trump the rule of law.

Editing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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