Over the last few months, Exit has been reporting on the case of a three-year-old boy, A.H, who accused his Kindergarten Director, Nashi Shehapi of hitting him and locking him in a cupboard under the stairs known as the “cave of the mouse”.
In a surprising turn of events, Exit has been given a recording that appear to confirm a number of the allegations made against the Director of Kindergarten No.1 in Tirana.
To help the pursuance of justice along its course, we have decided to publish some excerpts from the recording that takes place between a number of individuals that are directly linked to the accused, the victim, and Kindergarten No.1.
For now, we will not reveal the identity of the people in the recording, in the hope that they will give a voluntary, and honest testimony to the authorities.
— A statement was given to the judicial police by one of the teachers that Shehapi was not in the nursery on the day when the child was abused. According to the recording however, it transpires that this was a lie and that the teacher that made this statement was not in the kindergarten that day and was actually on the beach. According to the recording, not only was Shehapi at the kindergarten that day but she had even met with the mother of one of the kindergarten’s children in a local cafe.
— They discuss how the child now refuses to meet with his former teachers for fear they “have come to take him back to Nashi’s”.
— One of the individuals states that she knows the boy in question was beaten by Shehapi and that she had also been abused by the Director in the past. They all note that they are unable to do anything about it because they are in her clutches and under her control. Debate ensues about who really has the upper hand, as the staff are aware of a number of other abuses by Shehapi.
— The conversation confirms that Shehapi sent the child to the “cave of the mouse” as a punishment but that a staff member had intervened to save him from being locked away.
— How people who have come to defence of Shehapi at this time are either people she helped employ or people who don’t know the truth and have been misinformed.
— They discuss how they are scared to denounce the actions of Shehapi because it will damage the image of the government. They are worried the case will be politicised and that they will lose their jobs as a result. Some claim that they have tried to report her behavior to structures within the Socialist Party but that so far, nothing has happened.
— “Everyone knows what she has done,” says a member of the staff, in reference to her abuse of the child in question.
— Someone says the number of children seeking to be part of Garden No. 1 has dropped since the publication of the denunciation.
— The accusation that Shehapi has given money to the Prosecution- “she has given money”. Discussion then ensues regarding the fact that statements were not taken at the time the charges were filed and that the teachers were “isolated” from the Prosecutor- something they believe was deliberately coordinated.
— General discussion of who is protecting Shehapi, including reference to individuals previously mentioned in Exit’s articles. Debate over who is responsible for her retaining her role despite the accusations levied against her.
— “Do you know what she says? ‘There is nothing that you can do to me! I’m not going anywhere!’”.
The above may not come as much of a surprise to anyone who has been following the case, instead seeking to affirm the fact that Shehapi is widely believed to be guilty of these crimes, and is being protected.
From these comments as well as months of investigation from Exit, it would seem that abuses carried out by Shehapi are not limited to that of the three-year-old boy in question but rather extend to staff, parents, and potentially other children as well.
From the beginning, the case has been mired in procedural and legal errors and irregularities, culminating in Prosecutor Eriselda Bala moving to dismiss the case in court last week, citing a lack of evidence.
Asides from the fact that the investigation didn’t actually start until the father of the child and a journalist from Exit exposed the case and challenged Bala’s lack of action, a number of other concerning issues were noted. These included documents showing that the child’s two hour testimony had been reduced to five lines of text, including a response “I have nothing further to say” when asked if Shehapi had hit him.
This is surprising, not only because it is a very unusual sentence for a three-year-old to say but also because of the child’s numerous denouncements made in the presence of witnesses. Furthermore there was a serious lack of interrogation of key witnesses, replaced by statements proclaiming Shehapi’s innocence. These statements were taken from individuals such as the night guard, a woman whose child didn’t even attend the kindergarten, and a government employee.
In addition to this, the child’s name and photo were deliberately leaked to the media, and Ms Bala told the mother of the child that his case had been “damaged” by the publication of the case. She failed to elaborate on why.
Following the confirmation of wrongdoing that the recording suggests, we hereby implore those involved to do the right thing and to tell the truth to the authorities. The recording and the statement of a number of individuals close to the situation confirm the child’s series of events and clearly point to Shehapi as the individual who assaulted him.
We consider it the duty of those working in public institutions to speak up and protect those individuals whose care is entrusted to them, particularly in the case of a baby such as A.H. Politics should never be more important than the pursuance of truth or justice, and we call shame upon anyone that puts political loyalty before the wellbeing of a baby. The truth must always prevail and we hope that those involved will come forward and do the right thing, without being intimidated into silence for political reasons or fear of losing their job.
Let us hope that the case of a violated and traumatised minor, who still says to this day that Shehapi abused him, will be treated with the seriousness and due process that it deserves.
— Alice Elizabeth Taylor and Rezearta Çaushaj