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Albanians protest over killing, Minister of Interior steps down

On 10 December, Albania’s Minister of Interior resigned over the police killing of the 25-year-old Klodian Rasha. However, hundreds of Albanians still gathered in the streets the following nights, protesting against the excessive police force. 

Shot dead while buying cigarettes

Klodian Rasha was shot dead by the police on 8 December, while violating a COVID-19 curfew. The responsible police officer, who is now suspended and awaiting investigation, said that he thought Rasha had a weapon in his hand, but in reality, the 25-year-old was unarmed and reportedly went outside to buy cigarettes. 

Protesters demand resignation

The night after the fatal incident, hundreds of Albanians gathered in front of the government buildings, protesting against the police actions and demanding the resignation of the Interior Minister, Sander Lleshaj. At that moment Lleshaj had only offered his condolences, just as Prime Minister Edi Rama and the State Police. 

On 10 December, Lleshaj gave in on the demands and made his resignation public, saying “My decision comes as a person and as a parent who modestly shares pain with the parents and children of Klodian Rasha’s family, but also as expressions of gratitude and respect for those who trusted me.” 

Even though Lleshaj stepped down, the same night new protests erupted again in multiple cities, turning violent. 16 policemen were injured and four protesters were arrested, while others are still being searched for.

“Extreme and inappropriate violence”

President Ilir Meta wrote on Facebook “In the last two years… acts of extreme and inappropriate violence by certain state police have escalated. This is the direct responsibility of senior officials and state police leaders, as well as the minister of [the] interior, who have not so far held clear public positions for zero tolerance for such acts.”, adding that he urges the authorities to pursue a transparent and independent investigation into the Klodian Rasha’s murder. 

Sources: Balkaninsight1Balkaninsight2EuronewsReuters

Image: Wikimedia