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Albania: death penalty / legal concern: Hysen Gjoci, Gjergj Gjikopulli and many others

, Index number: EUR 11/007/1990

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: EUR 11/07/90
Distr: UA/SC
UA 509/90 Death Penalty/Legal Concern 18 December 1990
+ many others
According to official Albanian sources 157 people have been arrested in
connection with demonstrations and violent riots that took place in Shkodër,
Elbasan, Durres and other towns on 13 and 14 December 1990. Amnesty International
is concerned about reports that some of these people face charges of "terrorism"
and "sabotage" - offences for which the maximum sentence is the death penalty.
Among those who are reported to have been charged with these offences are
Hysen Gjoci and Gjergj Gjikopulli, who are apparently suspected of having
organized violent unrest and are alleged to have been in possession of 30
handgrenades and six pistols at the time of their arrest.
Since November 1990, people detained in Albania have the right of access
to a lawyer throughout criminal proceedings, and the Procurator General has
publicly guaranteed that all those arrested will be defended by lawyers.
However, Amnesty International is concerned by reports that indicate that some
of those arrested may have already gone on trial (on 17 December) which gives
rise to fears that they may not have had sufficient time to be acquainted with
the charges against them and prepare their defence. It is also not clear whether
the trials are to be open to the public.
Student unrest, which began at Tirana university on 8 December 1990, led to
a decision by the communist party Central Committee on 11 December to allow
opposition parties to operate. The following day the first legal opposition
party, the Democratic Party, was founded in Tirana and students returned to
classes. However, a demonstration in Shkodër in support of Tirana students
led to violent clashes on 13 December in which demonstrators attacked Party
and government buildings and the local radio station. There were also
anti-government riots in Elbasan, Durrës, Kavajë and other towns. It is
reported that on the night of 16 December there were two arson attacks on
factories in Tirana.
The Procurator General, who announced on 16 December that a total of
157 people had been arrested, said that they had been charged with "illegal
assembly, looting, attempted murder and assault". An official spokesman in
Shkodër reportedly told a correspondent for Agence France Presse that the first
trial of people charged with "terrorism and sabotage" would take place within
the next few days.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/express and airmail letters:
- expressing concern at reports that Hysen Gjoci, Gjergj Gjikopulli and possibly
others arrested in connection with recent violent demonstrations have been
charged with offences for which the maximum sentence is the death penalty
- stating that Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases
without reservation, on the grounds that it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman
and degrading punishment;
- urging that all those arrested be guaranteed legal safeguards, including
access to a lawyer, time to prepare their defence and an open trial.
President Ramiz Alia
Chairman of the Presidium
of the People's Assembly
Telexes: 4298 PKPRSSH AB
Telegrams: President Ramiz Alia, Tirana, Albania
Prime Minister Adil Çarçani
Council of Ministers
(Keshili i Ministrave)
Telegrams: Prime Minister Adil Carcani, Tirana, Albania
Telexes: 4201 kmrpssh ab
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministria e Puneve te Jashtme
and to diplomatic representatives of Albania in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 29 January 1991.

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