It is that day of the year again

My birthday is today. I am getting older, that’s true. But then, so are you and everybody else around you.

This birthday, like the ones the previous years right before it, is greatly influenced by technology. Most people would not remember my birthday, because, well, it is not important, not even to me, were it not for the almighty facebook. By the way, did you notice how the facebook stock went up today too? Coincidence?

And there were not only various people that remembered my birthday, mind you.

My bank sent me an automated email today with some free offers – thank you, my cell phone company is not charging me today for calls and sms’s I make, amazon.com sent me a list of books I might have considered buying at some point at 50% off, today only!

Isn’t it great that I, like most people, have a birthday? Today?

Thanks to all and everyone for the well meaning wishes and gifts. Each and every one of them has a certain significance to me.

Until this time next year, happy birthdays to you all too! Whenever that is.

Convicted!

I have posted before about my time in Albania as an expat returning from abroad to serve my country of birth.

That ended in my resignation, and later some interesting adventures with the legal system of the Albanian state mafia.

So here is my story in short (with attached pdf’s of various documents that corroborate it).

It was somewhere the beginning of 2010 at the University of Vlora in Albania. I was in charge of the computer science department at the time, and as a side project in charge of building a student information and management system for the university with my students.

At this time unknown to me, a local judge by the name of Simo Kolagji, wanted a diploma for his son and decided that the university of vlora would be the right university for that.

So far so good, except that his son was not a student there, but at an unrecognized private school in another town, a diploma mill going by the name of “Kristal University”. Regardless he had arranged for the junior kolagji to take some classes at the University of Vlora as a special student, and that seemed to be enough in his mind to make such an outrageous demand.

His reasoning at the time was some “courses” from “Kristal” could be transferred over to his son’s transcript at UV, in order to graduate there with a full transcript.

I know, if you have read this far your are probably wandering as to the mental health of the judge in question, or what was I doing in such a place? If you read on, it gets worse.

These demands were turned down by the university administration (of which I was not a part of at that time), and Simo sued.

The case was handled by his close friend Fuat Muka, in the same courthouse where he worked. To make a long story short the local court ‘ordered’ the university to award the requested diploma. Here is that verdict. (The appeals court upheld the decision and the high court too.)

This happened sometime in July 2010 when I was still at the Computer Science department.

Now comes the interesting bit. The university refused to comply with the ruling on the grounds that it could not add fake courses in the transcript of a student that did not exist (officially at least).

In the university computerized system whose development I oversaw such ‘students’ were flagged and were not allowed to register for classes like regular students. That made the computer system implicated in a legal case. And its main creator, me.

The next step for Simo and his friends was to sue university administrators personally in criminal court, for not abiding by a court ruling, and the local prosecutor, another friend of his, barged into my office demanding that the computer system be ‘confiscated’ and ‘turned over’ for ‘investigation on wrongdoing.’ (btw. this system was built an ran on a volunteer basis out of my hosting provider which also hosted geocoder.ca in Toronto. The university never paid a dime for its development, nor for its running costs.)

I explained as best as I could that the ‘system’ was a computer program, running in ‘the cloud’, it was not a physical object or a person that could be turned over, but access to its data was always available to everyone who asked for it through official channels. I also explained that the system itself can not obstruct justice, there are users at various levels of access to the system that implement written policies using the system as a tool to facilitate such work.

Anyhow, by now it was November 2010, a time of major political pressure on the university which caused the university president to resign blaming the prime minister and the minister of education for destroying the autonomy of the university and higher education in Albania. I resigned shortly after and returned to Canada.

Then sometime in May 2011, unknown to me (I was back in Albania at this time because of family obligations), the prosecutors’ office had started a criminal investigation against the former university president and myself. Although I was in Albania during this time, the prosecutor never took the time to call, or inform me in writing of the charges.

The absurdity of such action is obvious for another fact. Vlora is such a small town, that almost everyone there knows when I am in town or out of it. My strong suspicion is that they did not even want me to find out I had been charged with a crime lest I hire a lawyer to fight those charges.

I found out when the matter had gone before a judge. The text of the charges (which can be seen in pdf format at the bottom of this page) against me is mind-boggling.  I am accused of building and ‘controlling’ a computer system that had committed a major crime. Maybe the prosecutor took my explanation of the system being in the ‘cloud’ in a litteral meaning, thus thought I was joking with the aim to ridicule their institution and thus obstruct justice (which is the charge against me, carrying a maximum of 3 years in prison if convicted).

Nevertheless, I was charged while I was there without even given an opportunity to explain or defend myself against those charges, and recently in absentia the prosecutor concluded his case demanding that I go to prison for 6 months.

Today another judge (Hektor Sinani) passed a guilty verdict.

I am waiting for a copy of the verdict but my friend in Albania who is trying to get a copy tells me they are too lazy to write, so it could take a while until it is available.

So, I am now a convicted felon in the country I went to help develop. I will post more information about this case on this blog when it is available.