News 07 Feb 13

Albania Court to Rule on Protestors' Deaths

The Tirana District Court is expected to rule on Thursday on charges against two former Republican Guard officers, accused of the murder of three protestors in the 2011 riots.

Besar Likmeta
Agim Llupo, sits in court Wednesday Jan. 30, 2013, in Tirana,

Prosecutors have demanded a 23-year sentence for the former head of the Republica Guard, Ndrea Prendi, and 25 years for Agim Luppo, former chief of staff of a special unit of the Republican Guard.

Prendi and Llupo are accused of murder under aggravated circumstances. According to prosecutors, Llupo aimed at, and shot dead, two protestors during the January 2011 rally, while Prendi shot with his pistol toward the crowd 11 times, killing one person. Prendi is also accused of changing the barrel of his gun in an effort to thwart the discovery of the truth of the events.

Four protestors in total died during the protest and seven others were wounded, including a TV reporter.

The protest turned into a riot when several hundred opposition marchers attacked a police barricade set up to protect the office of Prime Minister Sali Berisha, using sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails.

Police responded with tear gas and water cannons, and later the Republican Guard used live ammunition fire.

Berisha has repeatedly called the protest a failed coup attempt, and has vowed to punish those responsible.

According to him, the anti-government protests were only the first part of the coup. He has claimed that the next phases were planned by the President, the Prosecutor General and the secret services, but has yet to present proof for his claims.

The opposition Socialists, who supported the protest, maintain that Berisha turned a peaceful rally into a bloodbath.

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