Albanian interior minister resigns after protests against fatal police shootings
Albania’s interior minister resigned amid protests after police shot dead a young man during the country’s nighttime curfew on Tuesday.
Klodian Rasha, 25, was shot dead near his home in the capital Tirana after failing to respond to police calls to arrest.
An officer, who was later suspended pending investigation, reportedly said he opened fire because he believed the man had a gun in his hands.
Klodian Rasha’s sister, Sibora, told Euronews Albania that his brother did not have a gun with him when he was approached by police and went out to buy cigarettes.
“I want to know why my brother was killed. Why did they kill him when he didn’t have a gun with him?” she said.
Prime Minister Edi Rama confirmed on Thursday that he had accepted the resignation of Interior Minister Sander Lleshaj.
“My decision comes as a person and as a parent who modestly shares the pain with the parents and children of Klodian Rasha’s family, but also as an expression of gratitude and respect for those who have trusted me” Lleshaj said on Facebook.
The minister had previously said police were investigating how the fatal shooting happened and expressed his “deepest condolences for the tragic loss”.
“I express my full confidence that the responsible legal bodies will quickly, precisely and directly finalize the investigations into the murder of Klodian Rasha,” Lleshaj said on Facebook.
Several hundred protesters gathered outside Albanian government buildings in the capital on Thursday for a second night in a row.
Authorities had urged citizens to respect COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings, after violent clashes Wednesday, widely organized on social media.
State Police said 16 policemen were injured, while three people were charged with various offenses, including “participating in illegal assemblies”, “burning property” and “disobeying orders. a police officer in charge of public order “.
Many threw stones and flares at police trying to make their way into the Home Office, while others also damaged festive decorations in the main Skanderbeg square.
Police reiterated that gatherings of more than 10 people are banned in Albania as authorities have imposed several lockdown measures to prevent an outbreak of new coronavirus cases.
“We express our sincere condolences to the family, friends, relatives and citizens affected by this act,” state police said in a statement on Facebook.
“The state police assure citizens that they remain committed and committed to their duty to improve public safety, to protect the life and rights of every citizen.”
Albania’s President Ilir Meta added that the “tragic” incident had “deeply shaken” everyone in the country and blamed those responsible for the increase in police violence.
“Over the past two years … acts of extreme and inappropriate violence by some state police officers have escalated,” Meta said in a Facebook post.
“This is the direct responsibility of senior officials and heads of state police, as well as the Minister of [the] from within, who have so far failed to hold clear public positions in favor of zero tolerance for such acts.
“I urge law enforcement and other state authorities to respond immediately to the need for a justice society with a swift, thorough, independent, objective and transparent investigation into the serious incident of the murder of Klodian Rasha.”
Speaking on Thursday, Rama stressed that the fatal shooting was reprehensible, but had nothing to do with the general spirit and work of the Albanian police.
Albania is due to hold parliamentary elections in April next year.