Prime Minister Sali Berisha has slapped down calls for the return of the death penalty, following outrage over a suspected paedophile accused of murdering an 11-year-old.“This case was the act of a monster who killed a child and was prepared to kill another,” Berisha told the cabinet on Wednesday.
“A lot of people asking for the return of the death penalty, but Albania is a member of the Council of Europe and we cannot reinstate it,” he added.
The Prime MInister spoke out after a public outcry following the arrest on Sunday of a 45-year-old man in Tirana who is accused of molesting and kidnapping a 10-year-old and who is also suspected of murdering another 11-year-old boy, who disappeared in November.
During the course of the man’s arrest, police freed the 10-year-old boy, who had been kidnapped and was being held in the suspect’s apartment.
The case has stirred a heated debate on whether the death penalty should be brought back for such grave crimes.
The last capital punishment took place in Albania in 1992. The death penalty was officially abolished in 1999, after a court ruled that it contradicted the new constitution.
Berisha noted that despite the horrific nature of the case, evidence from countries that use the death penalty, like the United States, suggests its deterrent effect on crime is questionable.
“Although moral outrage in this case is legitimate we must be objective about it,” he said. “Albania has a high rate of discovery and punishment of crime, which is evidence of the rule of law.”
The Prime Minister also noted that the government was working to strengthen penalties in the criminal code for crimes against women and children.
Reacting to Berisha’s claim about the rule of law, the opposition said that many Albanians still felt unsafe.
“This macabre crime, which has shocked society as a whole… shows the problematic situation with crime in Albania and the failure of the justice system,” Socialist MP Eglantina Gjermeni said.
“This government cannot guarantee the safety of our children from a monster who takes the life of an 11-year-old,” she added.