14 Feb 11

Four Albania Guardsman Arrested over Deadly Protest

Four Republican Guard soldiers were arrested on Saturday, charged with dereliction of duty during the violent opposition protest on January 21 which left four people dead.

Besar Likmeta
Tirana

The arrests of the four soldiers follows the detainment of two officers last week who are charged with murder for the shooting of unarmed opposition protesters during the demonstration.

One the officers arrested, Major Agim Lullpo, chief of staff of the Republican Guard Special Unit, is suspected of having shot at least one the protesters.

In a video broadcast by local media, Major Agim Llupo is shown apparently shooting a barrage of automatic fire from an MP5 rifle toward unarmed demonstrators as anti-government protesters clash with police.

Llupo’s superior, Alfred Ahmetcenaj, which has been set free on bail, is suspected of giving the order to fire at the protesters.

Police refused the orders of the prosecutor for more than two weeks, after Prime Minister Sali Berisha declared it illegal and the guardsman untouchable.

Despite the government's accusations, Tirana’s District Court declared the arrest warrants perfectly legal.  

The protest of January 21 turned into a riot when several hundred marchers attacked the police barricade set up to protect the prime minister’s office, using sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails.

Police responded with tear gas, water cannons and later with live ammunition fire, leaving four dead and dozens wounded.

Prosecutors are currently investigating the murders, the organisers of the protest and the violent demonstrators that attacked the police.

Apart from the arrest of the guardsmen, several opposition MPs have also been questioned over the demonstrations, suspected by the government of being the organisers of the violent protests.

The opposition and the government in Albania continue to argue over who is to blame for the January 21 unrest.  

Prime Minister Sali Berisha claims that his government is the victim of a failed coup attempt orchestrated by the Socialists, the president, the secret service, the general prosecutor and four journalists.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Edi Rama accuses Berisha of turning a peaceful protest into a bloodbath and attacking any institution that does not agree with his version of the facts.

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