25 Jan 11

US Backs Embattled Albania Prosecutor

The United States has expressed its full confidence in Albanian General Prosecutor Ina Rama, accused by the government in Tirana of orchestrating a failed coup d’état with the opposition and the secret services.

Besar Likmeta

The accusations against Ina Rama came after she launched an investigation and issued warrants for the arrest of six high ranking Republican Guard officers following Friday’s clashes between police and anti-government protesters.

The violent unrest left three people dead and seven others wounded by gunfire.

Prime Minister Sali Berisha and the police have refused to enforce the warrants, in what experts say is a breach of the Albanian constitution.    

“Under Albanian law, the Office of the Prosecutor General has the lead in investigating that situation and I just want to state before everyone here that the United States supports the office of the prosecutor very fully and very completely,” said US ambassador Alexander Arvizu in a joint press conference with the Albanian prosecutor.

General Prosecutor Rama announced during the press conference that she would ask for ballistic experts from the United States to back up the investigation. Rama said that the request for help was due to “the complexity of the case, its repercussions and the involvement of government structures tasked with securing the security of institutions, law and order.”    

She also guaranteed that the investigation, which is progressing at full speed, would be objective and not affected by political interests.

Responding to a reporter’s question about the need to issue the warrants for the arrest of the Republican Guard officers, Rama said that “if they had been carried out we would have more details for the investigation.”

“Warrants are issued for people suspected of a criminal act,” she said. “The execution of the warrants would help shed light on the event.

The fighting on Friday broke out when several hundred protesters attacked the police barricade set up to protect the prime minister’s office, using sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails, and police responded with tear gas, a water cannon and later with live ammunition fire to disperse the crowd.  

The group of violent protesters threw rocks and set several cars on fire as they clashed with police. Another group of protesters, estimated at 20,000 people, demonstrated non-violently on Tirana's main boulevard.  

Berisha’s ruling Democratic Party and the Socialist opposition, headed by Tirana mayor Edi Rama, have been locked in a power struggle since the end of the June 2009 parliamentary elections.

The Socialists allege that Berisha stole the elections through voter fraud, while the ruling majority rejects the accusations as baseless and maintains that the polls were the best the country has ever held.

Friday's anti-government protests were called by the opposition following the publication of video which allegedly shows two government ministers discussing corrupt deals.

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