ERRC Letter to the General Prosecutor of Albania Alush Dragoshi

14 December 1996

Dear Mr. Dragoshi,

The European Roma Rights Center has conducted field research about the human rights situation of Roma in Albania, during which our researchers met with Mr. Edison Heba and Mr. Robert Kote at the General Prosecutor's Office's Legal Studies and External Relations Division. Following this meeting, during which our researchers expressed their wish to get detailed information about specific cases they came across on their mission, we are now submitting our concerns to you in written form. We kindly ask you to send us all information available regarding the following cases:

Referring to systematic and extensive torture and degrading treatment by fellow soldiers and superiors during their service in the military, 23-year-old Vladimir Majko and 19-year-old Petrit Musta told the ERRC that they left their unit in Sarandë without permission in February, 1996. The two men, both residents of Delvinë, are subsequently charged with desertion and have been sentenced to 7 months in prison. According to our information, this court decision has been appealed twice and is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court in Tiranë.

On August 9, 1995, Hassan and Esma Hysenaj and their daughter Luljeta Lefteriadhi were arrested in their home in Fier by several policemen who allegedly acted violently and did not show arrest warrants. According to the three, the police were looking for Hassan's and Esma's son-in-law Flamur Dino whom they accused of having bought a child who had earlier been abducted. Both Flamur and his wife Flora were in Greece at the time of the arrest. Hassan, Esma and Luljeta were shoved into two police cars and taken to the police station in Durrës, where they were kept in detention for nine months without being charged and without being provided with a legal attorney. Hassan reported about physical violence both at the time of the arrestand during the time in detention. Moreover, Hassan's and Esma's son Besnik told the ERRC that despite numerous attempts, he was not allowed to see his family during the entire nine-month-period.

In August and September respectively, Flora and Flamur returned from Greece and were both arrested. On February 24, 1996, they were declared guilty according to Article 109, paragraph 2 and Article 25 of the Albanian Penal Code. Flamur received life-time imprisonment and his wife 23 years as accomplice. Hassan, Esma and Luljeta were declared guilty of contempt of court (Article 300 of the Albanian Penal Code) and served additional periods of imprisonment. Esma was set free on April 10, Hassan on June 26, and Luljeta on September 29, 1996.

According to the lawyer of the family Kristaq Profka, Flamur and his wife Flora had been in Greece from May 7, 1995, while the child they were accused of having bought disappeared on July 4, 1995. The defendants appealed the court decision nr. 43 of February 24, 1996, which was rejected by the Court of Appeal in Tiranë in decision nr. 316 of May 3, 1996. The family appealed again and is now awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court.

22-year-old Agim Shahipi was shot dead by a police officer in the Romani community of Zinxhiri in Gjirokastra in February 1994. The incident was preceded by an argument in the local bar, frequented by both Roma and the police officer. According to witnesses, the police officer was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but he was allegedly let out after two or three years.

31-year-old Seran Sadiku was beaten to death in police custody in Korcë on January 4, 1992. He had been arrested together with his 21-year-old brother Gazimir Sadiku, who was subjected serious ill-treatment by the police, too. In response to their protest letter to President of the Republic Mr. Berisha, the family of the victim received a reply stating that their letter had been forwarded to Minister of Public Order Bashkim Kopliku. According to our information, the incident was investigated by Mr. Azis Roshi at the Korcë Prosecutor's Office. At the Prosecutor's Office in Korcë, there was no notice about this case in the file registers.

15-year-old Fatmir Haxhiu was covered by benzine and burnt by four young ethnic Albanians in Tiranë on July 17, 1996. Following the attack, 55% of his body was covered in 3rd degree burns and he died from his wounds in hospital on July 21, 1996.

According to your letter dated September 2, 1996, an investigation was in progress and one of the perpetrators, Mr. Fatos Cobani, had been arrested. We would very much appreciate receiving the latest information concerning this case.

We are looking forward to your prompt reply.

Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Veronika Szente
European Roma Rights Center

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