From: Alice Taylor
Protestors Throw Red Paint at Ministry Over Death of Seven-Year-Old Girl

Protestors in Tirana threw red paint on the Ministry of the Interior building on Monday (8 August) night to demand justice and resignations over the death of a seven-year-old girl who was killed by an off-duty police officer driving a boat at high speeds in an area designated for swimmers earlier this month.

Jonada Avida was killed instantly when she was hit by the propellers of a boat, sending shockwaves through Albania and sparking protests from civil society and opposition parties. Driving the boat was Arjan Tase, a police commissioner who, in 2020, escaped charges of abuse of office in a drug cultivation case over a technicality.

Citizens protested for the second time, demanding the resignation of Tourism Minister Mirela Kumbaro and Interior Minister Bedar Cuci and paint was splattered on the exterior of the ministry building.

“Kumbaro, as tourism minister, should resign after failing with tourism. You killed a seven-year-old girl who had come to spend the holidays in her homeland,” said one of the leaders of the protest.

Ilirjana Kucana, a relative of the deceased girl, who lived in the UK but was visiting Albania for the summer, called Prime Minister Edi Rama during the protest to answer to the demands of the protestors, but he did not answer.

“We will continue to seek justice for Jonada in international institutions. We will launch an online and physical petition asking the Prime Minister to dismiss Ministers Çuçi and Kumbaro. We do this for the other Jonahs. Should someone be held responsible for every person who is killed by the state uniforms, by the prime minister”, said Kuçana.

Tase has been charged with indirect intentional homicide and is awaiting trial in prison.

Witnesses to the event that spoke to EURACTIV spoke of their trauma after the death, describing it as “like a horror film” and noting that Tase was driving at a “hellish speed”. His service weapon was also found in the boat, although he was not on duty at the time.

One of the girl’s family members told the media that serious details of the incident were being concealed. She said the family, who live in England, will submit evidence to the British Embassy. They added that as the child was a British citizen, they hoped the UK would investigate as well.

“The event is very serious. Crashing once wasn’t enough for him, but he turned and fired the propellers of the boat. Such an action can only occur under the influence of narcotics. I have a lot of information, but I cannot speak as we have left it to justice. The charge filed by the state police is shameful,” the family member said, adding that several videos from witnesses will be filed with the prosecution.

Meanwhile, the police have ordered a clamp down on the activity of pleasure boats on the Albanian coast. But owners and administrators have protested in front of the border police in Vlore as they say it is destroying their business at the peak of the tourist season.