The Municipality of Dibra has awarded Haxhi Lleshi, a high-ranking communist and person of trust of Dictator Enver Hoxha, with the “Honour of the Municipality of Dibra.”
The decision came after a request made by Veterans of the Anti-Fascist National Liberation War on 24 October.
Lleshi is alleged to have been involved in facilitating all political killings during the communist regime, between 1953 and 1982. In 1995, he was stripped of all decorations and honorary titles by the President, for his part in the killings of Albanian people during the dictatorship.
He served as Minister of the Interior and Presidium of the People’s Assembly. In the early 1990s, he was one of more than 30 Communist officials who were charged with crimes. His name is included on a list compiled by the Institute for the Study of Crimes and Consequences of Communism (ISKKK) that details those responsible for crimes of the Communist Party and the National Liberation Army. Those on the list are said to have been members of political and military structures that inspired, organised, ordered, executed, or assisted in criminal acts during that time.
The award was condemned by former Democratic Party MP Dhurata Cupi who said it must be cancelled.
Newly elected head of the ISKKK, Celo Hoxha also condemned the news saying that it contradicts the laws in place that should condemn the crimes of communism. He also called for the adoption of two laws- the law of Lustration and Communism, as the only way to ensure there is no praise and glorification of those who committed crimes during the dictatorship.
Hoxha took over the role this week following the resignation of Agron Tufa who has sought asylum in Switzerland in fear of his life. Tufa received death threats as well as harassment from Socialist Party MPs and former communists due to the nature of his work investigating, studying, and publishing information on non-judicial executions carried out by communist forces.
The Socialist Party of Albania is a direct descendant of the former Communist Party and several key figures in politics are ex-communists.