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Dritan Lamaj, a 41-year-old chief commissioner, was killed on Sunday evening in Tirana, the third high-ranking Albanian police officer to be murdered in the last eight months.
Lamaj was hit by bursts of gunfire from an AK-47 assault rifle after parking his car outside his apartment in the Vasil Shanto neighborhood of Tirana.
“The case is being investigated by the serious crimes prosecutor’s office, because we believe the motif behind the murder is related to Lamaj’s work,” Albi Serjani, a spokesperson for the general prosecutor’s office told Balkan Insight.
During his 18-year long career, Lamaj had held several important positions in the Albanian police force. Until last year he headed the police station of the sixth district of Tirana, before he was transferred to the force’s general directorate.
Lamaj’s death follows the murder of the police chief of the town of Shijak, Adem Tahiri, in September, and the killing of Musa Skura, the head of the serious crime unit in the police department of the Mat region in January.
Sadetin Fishta, the head of Albania’s police union, told Balkan Insight that the murders of police officers highlight the dangers they face.
“The fact that three officers have been killed means that we are not able to protect ourselves anymore,” he said.
“When crime hits a police officer, the whole state receives a blow,” Fishta added.
Opposition leader Edi Rama blamed the murder on the government, in a reaction published on his Twitter account.
“Another commissioner killed in the center of Tirana. How many more lives will the treachery of the state toward the police cost?” he asked.
Fishta said that the police union had repeatedly called for an increase in criminal penalties for attacks on officers, but little had been done to implement this.
“Although police can receive protection if they are threatened, the fact that murders continue shows that we have fallen one step behind criminals,” he concluded.
Lamaj is survived by his wife and teenage daughter. He will be laid to rest on Monday with state honours at the Martyrs of the Nation cemetery in Tirana.
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