In November 2018, myself and Rezearta Caushaj reported on a case of a socialist party member and canvasser, and unqualified kindergarten director Nashi Shehapi who had beaten and abused a three-year-old boy. Since then, through communications with numerous staff and parents related to the kindergarten, we unearthed a web of systematic abuse, violence, intimidation, corruption, propaganda propagating, and even theft at the hands of the seemingly “untouchable” Shehapi.
This Director not only threatened staff members and parents into silence but she abused her position and power to make terrified people stand up for her and lie about her reign of terror. But in addition to this, she boasted throughout the last three months that she enjoyed political protection from the Bashkia, the prosecution office, the Directorate of Kindergartens, the Socialist Party, and the Ministry of Education. Despite us naming and shaming those that Nashi said were protecting her, it seems that the power of politics is set to prevail.
Today, the mother of the beaten child received a phone call from prosecutor Eriselda Bala stating that the case would not be progressing any further. Her reason was that there was a lack of evidence, meaning that it would not hold up in court.
Ms Bala has been presented with the testimony of three psychologists, a testimony from the child just after the event, a testimony from the child two months later, a recording of the child stating that Nashi would put naughty children in a cupboard under the stairs called the “mouse cave”, a medical report from a legal doctor stating that the bruising was caused by an adult, and the testimony of both parents. I am not sure what else Ms Bala would need in order to consider that this is a matter worth pursuing. I have studied law and whilst I may not be au fait with the nuances of the Albanian legal system, I know exactly what constitutes sufficient evidence and I know that the evidence presented to the prosecutor is more than enough to meet the requirements.
Confusingly, Ms Bala then stated that if another parent would come forward and say that their child had been beaten, she would pursue it. Can you just let the stupidity of that request sink in for a moment? Can you imagine catching a murderer and then the prosecutor saying “oh but I cannot prosecute him for murdering this man because there is no evidence he has done it before”. Whether she has done it before (several parents have told us that she has) is irrelevant to the fact that this little three-year-old boy was terrorised and terrified of a woman who was entrusted to take care of him.
Another of her reasons for not pursuing the case was the fact that she didn’t like the fact I went to her office and asked her to explain herself. Well I am sorry, dear Eriselda, but you are obliged to be held publicly accountable, and if you didn’t like my attitude then, I can assure you that your opinion of it is not going to improve any time soon.
But what was it that really upset you? Was it the fact that I called you out on it taking two months to pick the case up of your desk? Was it the fact that you didn’t like the fact I asked you to speak in English every time you addressed me in Albanian, despite speaking the language? Was it the fact that I ignored your refusal to see me and walked into your office on the behest of your angry and disappointed colleagues, to speak to you? Was it the fact that I pointed out you were not doing your job properly? Was it the fact that I was not intimidated by your “power” and “position”? Was it the fact that you thought you were going to get away with brushing this under the carpet because you thought the child of a divorced couple was fair game for abuse? Or was it the fact that I published, and will continue to publish all of your failings in your handling of the case? I can see why you don’t like me Eriselda, but all of this could have been avoided, had you only done your job properly.
You see the fact of the matter is that not only have you failed in your job as a protector of the law, not only have you failed to abide by the law you swore to uphold, but you have failed as a woman, and as a mother as well. You have not only failed to provide justice to a small boy who was traumatised and beaten, but you have let down every other child that has or will ever pass through Kindergarten No.1.
What sort of country are we living in where the protection of a lowly Socialist Party nobody comes before the protection of society’s most vulnerable?