Two guardsmen arrested in Albania over shooting deaths in clashes

09:24, February 10, 2011      

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Two officers of Albania's republican guard have been arrested over the shooting deaths of four protesters during an anti-government protest by the opposition more than two weeks ago, the General Prosecutor's Office said on Wednesday.

The arrests mark an end to the standoff between the prosecutor- general and Prime Minister Sali Berisha, who had defended the police for not executing the arrest orders.

Albania is calm but tension remains high between the government and the opposition, which announced another demonstration against government corruption scheduled for this Friday.

Six high-ranking officers of the Guard of the Republic, including its commander Ndrea Prendi, were questioned by prosecutors for more than 12 hours after they handed themselves over on Tuesday afternoon. Five of them were released, while one, Alfred Ahmetcenaj, was detained.

Agim Llup, the chief of staff of the guard's special unit led by Ahmetcenaj, had been detained a day earlier, the prosecutor's office said. They are accused of murdering two or more persons and threatening the life of many persons.

According to Albanian law, they have to appear in court in three days.

The prosecutor's investigation is being assisted by a U.S. prosecutor, a measure welcomed by the prosecution, government and opposition after the exchange of accusations risked further deteriorating the situation in Albania.

Calling for a thorough, non-political and impartial investigation, Albanian President Bamir Topi said he felt the judiciary would live up to the challenge, and urged politicians not to apply pressure on the judiciary.

"Justice should work, the others should keep silent," Topi said.

Source: Xinhua

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