News 10 Oct 12

Second Albania Ex-Prisoner Sets Himself on Fire

Lirak Bejko set himself on fire on Wednesday in protest over the slow payment of reparations to victims of the Communist regime, the second such act in three days.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana
In this video image taken from News 24 private TV station, Lirak Bejko, 47, a former Albanian political prisoner sets fire to himself in Tirana, Albania Wednesday, Oct. 10 , 2012. | Photo by : AP Photo/News 24 private TV station

Bejko poured gasoline over his body and set himself on fire in a Tirana neighbourhood where he and others held a hunger strike.   

On Monday another ex-political prisoner, 51-year-old Gjergj Ndreca, who was one of the organizers of the strike, also set himself of fire, suffering third-degree burns on 40 per cent of his body.

The Communist Party ruled Albania with an iron fist for nearly half a century, imprisoning tens of thousands of people under appalling conditions in a network of prisons and concentration camps.  

A law passed in 2007 granted the former political prisoners of the regime reparations of 2000 lek (€14.3) for every day of prison that they had served.

However, the government has divided the payment into eight tranches and in the past five years, only one of those segments has been payed out.

The centre-right government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha has largely ignored the strikers’ demands, describing them as politically motivated.

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