Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Albania Guard Officer Arrested for Protester Death

The head of a special unit of the Republican Guard, suspected of killing one of the four protesters that died during the January 21 unrest in Tirana, was arrested on Tuesday.

Besar Likmeta

In a video broadcast by the local media, the guardsman, 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.

According to prosecutor sources, ballistic tests have shown that at least one of the protesters was shot by Llupo’s MP5.

The police have yet to enforce six arrest warrants for high ranking officers of the Republican Guard that were issued by prosecutors two weeks ago.

Prime Minister Sali Berisha, who has considered the January 21 unrest as a coup d’état, has declared this officers as “untouchable,” despite growing pressure from the US and the EU to hand them over.

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.

Berisha has accused the general prosecutor, the opposition, the president, the secret service and the media of taking part in what he says was an attempt to overthrow the government.

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