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Five Officials Tried in Death of Four Demonstrators

December 10, 1992

SHKODRA, Albania (AP) _ As the trial of five officials charged in the shooting death of four anti- Communist demonstrators opened, angry spectators demanded that the highest- ranking defendant be hanged.

Former Deputy Interior Minister Aredin Shyti claimed in court Wednesday that the proceedings were nothing more than a political show trial.

″Hanging is waiting for you, criminal,″ some of the 250 people in the packed courtroom shouted. They included members of victims’ families, most of whom were dressed in black.

The officials are being tried in connection with police shootings in this northern industrial city on April 2, 1991, when officers fired into a crowd protesting alleged vote-rigging in Albania’s first multiparty elections.

The street fighting left the local Communist Party office a smoking ruin.

The five policemen suspected of having fired on the protesters have fled to Greece, said presiding Judge Qazim Gjonaj.

The four police and Communist Party officials pleaded innocent to charges of abuse of office and complicity in murder. If convicted, they face at least 15 years in prison.

The prosecution has not said whether it would seek the death penalty.

Dhimiter Beshiri, one of the defense attorneys, said the trial was expected to last a week. He said Nexhmije Hoxha, widow of the late Stalinist ruler Enver Hoxha, would then stand trial.

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