Albania Court Frees Official Charged Over Deadly Riot

Tirana’s District Court issued a not guilty verdict on Thursday to Armando Kasaj, former head of IT in the Prime Minister’s office, who was accused of wiping the server containing footage of the January 21, 2011 riots.Based on scientific evidence produced in cooperation with US Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, prosecutors had sought a two-year sentence for Kasaj for obstructing justice.

The case relates to anti-government protests on January 21, 2011, which turned into a riot after opposition marchers attacked a police barricade set up to protect Prime Minister Sali Berisha’s office, using sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails.Police and the Republican Guard responded with tear gas, water cannons and later with live ammunition fire, leaving four protestors dead and several wounded.

According to prosecutors, the footage of two cameras placed close to the entrance of government’s offices, where the protestors were shot dead, was wiped clean in the evening of January 21, immediately after the protest, by the defendant.

Tests of the server carried out in FBI laboratories showed that the footage had been copied and formatted by the defendant, the only person who had access to the server.

The footage of these cameras was never made available to investigators.

Kasaj maintained in the trial that he only copied the footage, and then turned it over to the Republican Guard.

After the verdict, Kasaj said that “the court had proven him innocent,” while prosecutors said they would appeal.

Apart from Kasaj, prosecutors have indicted the former head of the Republican Guard, General Ndrea Prendi, and two officers, on murder and obstruction of justice charges.

Prendi, together with Agim Llupo, former chief of staff of a special unit of the Republican Guard, are accused of murder under aggravated circumstances.

They face a minimum of 20 years to life imprisonment if they are found guilty.

Check Also

Turkey’s self-made currency crisis

Following the resignation of the finance minister and his replacement by a loyalist on Dec. …