This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.afp.al
By Eduard Zaloshnja
Until 14 February of this year, there has also been other cases when Albanian public figures have been rejected a US visa. But this rejection has been justified with administrative reasons, although the real reason may have been another one. And the fact that some people have been rejected a US visa, has not denied them the possibility of obtaining such visa at a later period.
Meanwhile, on 14 February, for the first time in the history of relations between Albania and the US, a public figure has been declared a persona non-grata by the US State Department. The former Attorney General, Adriatik Llalla was denied the right to enter the US, because according to trusted information of the US State Department, he has been involved in big corruption affairs. This is the most serious official warning that is given to the big Albanian “fishes” by our strategic ally, which is determined to put an end to impunity in Albania. And with the open support that the US embassy has offered to the new Albanian Prosecutor General, it seems that the campaign to punish “the untouchables” has just started.
One of these big “fishes” (we can even say a shark), who feels threatened from the departure of Adriatik Llalla and the arrival of the new Attorney General who has the backing of the US, is Sali Berisha. And this is why.
Immediately after the new Attorney General assumed office, the Turkish state granted a request that the Albanian state had made 12 years ago for the extradition of Izet Haxhia. He is the person who lured Azem Hajdari in an ambush on the fatal night of 12 September 1998.
Albania’s request was not taken into consideration by the Turkish state when Berisha was in power or when the head of the Prosecution General was the person whom the US embassy accused of not investigating “big fishes”.
And throughout these years, Haxhia has offered numerous interviews from Turkey, in which he has declared that it was Berisha the one who lured Hajdari in the ambush. According to him, he was convicted because of a false testimony given by Berisha, who, in order to cover his tracks, blamed Haxhia. And the latter has sworn that one day he will return to Albania to prove Berisha’s involvement and his own innocence once the justice system is no longer in Berisha’s hands.
And this day doesn’t seem that far.
But, will the new justice system punish Berisha by releasing Haxhia based on the testimony of the latter? Haxhia in fact claims that he has material evidence (recordings, phone records) to support his claims. But, if he was in possession of such evidence, why did he not submit it to the Norwegian prosecutors when they prepared the case regarding Azem’s murder?
In all likelihood, it’s Berisha’s word against Haxhia’s word. But, based on the words of the latter, it is hard to imprison the opposition’s de facto leader. In this case, political revolts would be unavoidable.
It is more than clear that the US wants to punish “the untouchables”. But, it wants to do so based on incontestable proof, in order for the public opinion to be convinced on the fairness of the conviction. Berisha may have done other things for which the FBI has scientific proofs (let us recall the FBI’s report on the events of 21 January 2011). But they belong to another and longer chapter.
Under these circumstances, we wonder: Why has Rama has insisted so much to convince Erdogan’s friend to extradite Izet Haxhia now?
It looks as if by bringing back Haxhia to Albania, Rama wants to raise the Bar for Berisha. By reopening Hajdari’s case, which would attract lots of public attention, the arrests of the former subordinates of Berisha or some family member of his, will not receive that much attention.
This tactic used by Rama reminds us of the tactics of the guerrilla war, where the enemy was attacked on his weakest point, not to defeat him, but to remind him that he has other weak points. The real objective of the attack in this case relates to these weak points.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy