From: Exit Staff
Court Dismisses Charges against Protestors Who Carried Symbolic Coffins

The Court of Durres has dropped charges of “spreading panic” against two protestors who during protests against the murder of Klodian Rasha by a policeman, carried symbolic coffins with “hope” and “justice for Klodian” written on it.

The police arrested them and pressed charges, alleging that their actions constituted spreading panic.

The charges were rejected by the Court and the Prosecutor and their arrest was deemed illegal.

Speaking to BIRN, the young men’s legal representative said the accusation against the men was made on the basis of allegations of the police that they were scared of the coffin.

The police attempted to have them prosecuted under Article 267 of the Criminal Code which refers to the “dissemination of false information that incites panic.” Over the last year, a number of citizens, activists, and journalists have had this used against them by the police leading to reactions from human rights organizations.

On 28 November 2018, a young woman Xhuljana Aliaj was arrested by the State Police for posting on Facebook concerns over a possible explosion at Porto-Romano following an earthquake on 26 November. She was accused of spreading panic and was kept in the police station for three days before it took the court 11 months to dismiss the case.

Aliaj worked as a volunteer in the area helping people who had been made homeless by the 26 November earthquake.

The Albanian government also blocked access to the JOQ Albania portal due to similar allegations. The action was deemed “censorship of the media” by the Albanian Media Council.

Exit has previously explained that the use of the law in this way is illegal, particularly in terms of social media posts. There is no law or provision sanctioning arrest for such posts and the arrests are violations of human rights that are enshrined in the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.