I can confirm that I am the legal representative of Ms. Maria Bamieh. I represent Ms. Bamieh pro bono on the basis that she has been recognised as a whistleblower having disclosed serious and credible allegations of corruption within EULEX. Ms. Bamieh was improperly removed from her position as an International Prosecutor at EULEX due to the disclosures that she had made in the public interest. Ms. Bamieh brought a case against the UK Foreign, Development and Commonwealth Office which was ultimately settled out of court resulting in the payment of a significant sum of damages.
On 16 July 2022, Ms. Bamieh travelled to Prishtinë to attend a press conference to discuss whistleblowing and corrupt practices. At this time, she was served with a summons to attend an interview with the Prosecutor. The interview date was scheduled for 25 July 2022, a date after which Ms. Bamieh was due to return to the UK due to professional commitments.
On 18 July 2022, as her duly appointed legal representative I wrote to the Prosecutor informing her of my appointment and requesting a copy of all correspondence and details under what conditions the interview was scheduled to take place. Ms. Bamieh wrote to the Prosecutor confirming my appointment. No response was received.
On 19 July 2022, I wrote again to the Prosecutor stating that the date of the interview would need to be rescheduled and I would need to be furnished with advance disclosure prior to the interview.
On 20 July 2022, the Prosecutor replied stating that her office had received confirmation from the Kosovo Bar Association, and I was therefore not eligible to act in criminal proceedings. The Prosecutor further confirmed that Ms. Bamieh would be assigned ex officio counsel if she did not select a lawyer of her own.
On 21 and 22 July 2022, I wrote to the Prosecutor responding to her communication and requesting details as to the lifting of Ms. Bamieh’s immunity, requesting details of the ex officio counsel who would be assigned and advance disclosure of the allegations. I provided my contact details and invited the Prosecutor to contact me to discuss the matter further. No response was received.
On 1 August 2022, I wrote again to the Prosecutor informing her that I had not received any response to my prior requests. No response was received.
On 13 September 2022, I was made aware through reports in the media that the Basic Court of Prishtinë had issued an arrest warrant for Ms. Bamieh. I can confirm that neither I nor Ms. Bamieh have received any official communication from the Prosecutor or the Basic Court other than what we have read in the Kosovo media. I have now been informed, again by the media, that the Order of the Basic Court of Prishtinë was published in the Kosovo media. I repeat that the media reports have been published prior to any official communication being served on Ms. Bamieh or her legal representative, which is wholly inappropriate.
It would appear that in the Order it is stated that Ms. Bamieh refused to be interviewed by the Prosecutor and that Ms. Bamieh is on the run. That is a gross misrepresentation. At all times Ms. Bamieh has indicated that she was willing to cooperate with any ongoing investigation. Reasonable questions were put to the Prosecutor requesting details as to the nature and cause of the allegations and details as to whether her immunity had lifted, as it had not been waived. These were reasonable requests that are common in criminal investigations. The Prosecutor failed to respond to any of the requests made. The Prosecutor failed to engage in discussions on setting the parameters of any interview. The Prosecutor failed to inform Ms. Bamieh, or her legal representative, that she intended to apply for a warrant. The Prosecutor further decided not to make any request through Mutual Legal Assistance as one might expect prior to requesting the issuance of the arrest warrant. These matters cause real concern.
At this stage there has still been no official communication from the prosecutorial or judicial authorities in Kosovo.
We have sought to engage with the prosecutorial authorities in this matter and will continue to do so, but to be very clear there has been no communication with the Prosecutor since our last correspondence on 1 August 2022 and therefore the issuance of the arrest warrant is considered disproportionate.
One must be mindful that Ms. Bamieh has the status of a whistleblower and that any attempt to bring criminal charges for making disclosures in the public interest is a cynical attempt to censure freedom of speech and must not be tolerated. The allegations that she now faces will be rigorously challenged through all proper and legal means.