From: Exit Staff
Albanian Police Request Prosection Reopens January 21 Investigation

Albanian police have requested the reopening of the investigation into the 21 January tragedy in Tirana.

On 21 January 2011, a protest took place in Tirana against the government who at that time was the Democratic Party. The Socialist Party, in opposition at the time, alleged that the June 2009 elections were not free and fair. 18 months of protests followed, led by the PS.

Then, on 21 January, some 20,000 people attended a protest. The situation soon deteriorated as protestors threw stones and Molotov cocktails an the police reacted by using tear as and batons. The clashes persisted for several hours until the police and Republican Guard started firing bullets into the air to scare the demonstrators.

Three protesters were killed and a fourth died a week later in hospital.

In 2016, two former Republican Guards received one year and three years in prison on charges of negligent murder.

Yesterday, on the 10 year anniversary of the deaths, Prime Minister Edi Rama gave those who lost their lives, the title of “Martyrs of the Fatherland”. He met with families of the victims and said that the justice reform and vetting will bring justice to the country.

Rama previously promised that justice would be attained for those murdered and in 2013 it was one of his electoral campaign promises. He reiterated the promise in 2015 and 2017 as well. Yesterday however, he said justice will happen after the vetting ends, adding that the government cannot play the role of prosecution and justice must be completely independent of the government.

Interior Minister Bledi Cuci then announced that thanks to new technological developments, they would be able to re-examine one of the bullets that killed one of the protestors. He said that the police are now convinced they can find out where that bullet came from and which weapon fired it. This, he said “brings the whole issue to a new level.”

The Tirana police sent a request to the prosecution to reopen the file. Their requests include reviewing film footage, in-depth forensic examinations, and further questioning of witnesses.