Dozens of reporters and activists rallied in front of the government, protesting over a police assault on a Top-Channel TV staffer.According to information received by Balkan Insight, police detained cameraman Gent Ballta on Sunday while he was filming confrontations between Tirana football club fans and police officers.
While in detention in Tirana’s police station number one, Erzen Brecani, the deputy director for public safety in the Albanian capital, allegedly assulted him before he was later freed.
“Today we are not protesting simply because a police officer has assaulted a journalist, but rather on behalf of our dignity,” said Gjergj Erebara, an editor for the daily Shqip and one of the organizers of the rally.
Police first denied the assault and in a statement on Monday claimed the journalist had been detained briefly because he refused to identify himself.
“There was no attack on him during the identification process, which lasted only eight minutes,” Arben Nasufi, aide to the general director of police, Hysni Burgaj, said.
However, on Wednesday evening, Burgaj announced that the police had suspended Brecani and had opened disciplinary proceedings.
Speaking during the rally, the head of the Union of Albanian Journalists, Aleksander Cipa, called on the authorities to investigate the assault.
“This a protest initiated by journalist and reporters in defence of a colleague, who was threatened and assaulted while carrying out his duty,” Cipa said.
“The Union appeals to public institution to react with legal proceedings,” he added.