News 19 Sep 13

Officers Sentenced Over Albanian Protest Deaths

The Tirana Appeals Court on Wednesday jailed two former Republican Guard officers for a total of four years for killing protesters in the January 21, 2011 riots - but neither man will actually have to serve any more time in prison.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana

The former head of the Republican Guard, General Ndrea Prendi, was sentenced to one year's imprisonment while Agim Llupo, former chief of staff of a special unit of the Republican Guard, got three years.

Prosecutors had sought a total of 45 years of imprisonment for the two officers.

Prendi and Llupo were charged with 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 was also accused of changing the barrel of his gun in an effort to thwart the discovery of the truth of the events.

Presiding Judge Agim Bendo ruled that the death of the protesters was not an act of premeditated murder but involuntary manslaughter.

Prendi and Llupo will not in fact serve any further time in prison because the time they served in pre-trial detention exceeds the sentences.

The protest in Tirana 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.

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

Berisha condemned the protest as a failed coup attempt. The Socialists, then in opposition, said Berisha turned a peaceful rally into a bloodbath.

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