Memorie.al publishes some of the unknown stories of the former prime minister during the life of communist Albania, Mehmet Shehu, told by the former bodyguard and commander of his escort group, Ali Çeno, regarding his boss’s relations with Enver Hoxha and some of the most talked about events that continue to be shrouded in mystery even today, four decades after his elimination, such as those on the evening of December 17, 1981, when Ali Cheno accompanied his boss home after the meeting. of the Politburo, where he was severely criticized by Enver and most of its members and the morning events of that night, when the Albanian Prime Minister was found lifeless in his bedroom!
Rare testimonies of the former bodyguard of the Albanian Prime Minister, starting from the events of 1974, when Enver tried to bring Mehmet into conflict with Beqir Balluku and other former generals who were shot, Enver’s contradictions with Mehmet since 1976, which brought a cooling between them and also Fiqret and Nexhmija, so much so that the holidays did not bring those two families together as they had always done, (the conflict which was reflected in both groups of escorts led by Sulo Gradeci and Ali Çeno), fierce debates of the two highest leaders of communist Albania, in the spring of 1981, when demonstrations began in Kosovo, the events of autumn 1981 after the engagement of Mehmet’s second son, with ” the girl with a bad biography ”, where Enver and Nexhmija went to congratulate and why they took out the photographer of the Prime Minister’s family, the debates about the break-up of that engagement after Enver ordered Mehmeti to return urgently from Korça… ?!
The meeting of the Politburo on the afternoon of December 17, 1981, and the special orders given by Prime Minister Shehu to his bodyguard, for the service group that was guarding the villa that night, who and why informed Cheno to go there that night on duty, which had never happened before… ?! How Ali learned on the morning of December 18 what had happened to his boss, what Vladimir, the eldest son of the Shehu family, told him before he entered the prime minister’s bedroom, Ali’s telephone conversation with Ramiz Ali and his response, the role of Kadri Hazbiu in that event, the inhuman tortures that the investigator Sokol Koleka inflicted on Ali during the investigation process and what he asked him to say about Enver Hoxha, the version that Cheno gives, about the way, the mechanism and the people who took part in the assassination of former Prime Minister Shehu, and why does he accuse Ramiz Alia, as the executor of that plan that was previously conceived by Enver Hoxha ?!
“The meeting of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the ALP, ended there around 20.00 in the evening and immediately after that, Mehmeti, very nervous as rarely ever, hurried to the study of his house and threw the bag at the door, which fell to the floor. I immediately sat down to pick him up to put him in the place where he usually kept him, but he said to me: ‘Leave Ali damn, leave…’! Seeing him in that very shocked state, to soften him somewhat and calm him down, I said, ‘Whenever we are criticized, we should not do so.’ After that, he turned to me and said: ‘Why did you take Ali, do you compare yourself to me…?! Did you not hear what the little ones were doing in the meeting, like a parrot?! ‘?! (He was talking about the meeting of the Politburo that had just ended, where almost all its members, instigated by Enver Hoxha, severely attacked him with various accusations). After a while, around 8:45 pm, from the work studio where he was alone and I at her door in the corridor, Mehmeti called Enver and said: ‘Comrade Enver, can I only come for five minutes, to copy some things… ‘? I did not hear what Enver answered on the other side of the receiver, but I learned that the next day from Fiqret. Before I left him, to go to my house, Mehmeti addressed me: ‘Ali, beware of the service, lest evil come from where it awaits’. I was clear about why he was speaking, and before I left, I shared the assignment with the service group, left for home, only to return after a phone call from one of the escort group members, and I slept in the service room. The next morning, after I pulled out the Benz and got it ready to take the boss to the Bureau meeting, I heard screams from the second floor of the villa. Then, Vladimir, the eldest son of the family, came out and asked the doctor (Llesh Rroku) and me to go upstairs quickly. Ladi pointed her finger from the bedroom and, trembling, said to me: ‘Ali, go and see my father!’! I immediately got in there and for the moment, I remembered that he had fainted. I immediately measured his pulse and saw that he was finished… ”!
This is how Ali Çeno, the bodyguard and former commander of the escort group of the communist Prime Minister of Albania, Mehmet Shehu, and one of his most trusted people, remembered on the night of December 17-18, 1981, when he met and accompanied the chief on his way home, after the meeting of the Politburo, where Mehmeti was called to account, regarding the engagement of his second son, Skënder…! After that, Ali was silent for a moment and his eyes almost filled with tears. “This is how my flesh growls…”, he told us, as he remembered his former boss, the longest-serving prime minister in the history of the Albanian state, whom he served faithfully for ten years and for the first time showed us all the behind the scenes that led to the fatal night of December 18, 1981, when the Albanian Prime Minister, who for 27 years had ruled the country with an iron fist, was found lifeless in the bedroom of his villa, right at the entrance of ” Bllok ”, just a few steps away from the building of the Central Committee of the ALP and the big palace of Enver Hoxha, whose shadow seems to cover it every sunset…!
Just like when the contradictions between Enver Hoxha and Mehmet Shehu first arose, who was the minister who testified about the fierce conflict between them in 1954, when after being locked up at home guarded by his loyal former partisans from Mallakastra Brigade First Attacker, Mehmeti, got ready to go up the mountain ?! What accusations had been made against the Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu that day, December 18, 1981, at the meeting of the Politburo and what he had talked with the son of the former Minister King Zog during a visit he had made as Prime Minister the town of Cerrik ?! Why did Mehmeti ask for a meeting with Enver Hoxha that evening, a few hours before the mysterious event and what was the answer he received from him?! Ever since the contradictions and big rift between them had started, which led to the irreparable conflict of that fatal night at that end of December, and was it related to the heated debate that had taken place between them in front of the Party House as they left the building of the Central Committee of the ALP in March 1981, when the demonstrations had started in Kosovo and Mehmet Shehu had asked Enver to take the tanks to the border with Yugoslavia?
What were Mehmet’s relations with Ramiz Alia and why did they break up just a few days after the ceremony performed by the two families Shehu and Alia, in the villa of Dajti Mountain?! What had Enver Hoxha plotted, when together with Nexhmija, they went to visit the Shehu family, to wish the engagement of the son, Skënder, with the daughter of the Turdiu family and why they took out the photographer of the Shehu family (Dashamir Rrapin), by do not let him take your pictures? Why did Enver urgently call Mehmet from the meeting in Korça in October 1981 and what did he ask of him in his house, which Mehmet categorically opposed in the fierce quarrel that broke out between them?! Why on the evening of December 18, Mehmeti ordered the commander of his guards, Ali Chenon, to: be careful, that danger could come to you from where they were waiting?! What did he mean by that message and why was Ali Cheno called that night to go to sleep there, which he had never done before during the entire period of nearly 10 years he served in that position?!
Why did Ali Cheno insist, saying: his boss had not killed himself, but was killed by another man, who entered the night through the front door of the villa, collaborating with one of the officers of the internal service?! How did Ramiz Alia react when Ali informed him of what had happened to his boss? What was in the glass that Ali saw on Mehmet’s bedside table and why did it disappear immediately, after a group of forensic experts entered to inspect the scene?! Was Kadri Hazbiu implicated in that event, what was his position on the investigator and what did Kadriu say in the trial about Mehmet Shehu and the trial panel? What did investigator Sokol Spiro Koleka ask investigator Ali Çeno during the investigation process and why did he have to admit that: his boss Mehmeti, had charged him (Ali) to assassinate Enver Hoxha?!
About these mysteries where most of them are unknown and previously unpublished, as well as many other unknown events and facts related to the longest-serving former Prime Minister of the Albanian state, Mehmet Shehu, as well as relations and reports with Enver Hoxha, are made public by the testimonies narrated exclusively by Ali Çeno, former bodyguard and commander of his escort group, which Memorie.al publishes for the first time for its readers in several issues of the dossier section.
Cheno: What did Mehmeti tell me in 1975 when he was waiting to communicate the dismissal to Minister Kiço Ngjela?!
Ali Çeno, the loyal bodyguard of former Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu, testified to us that: the conflict between his boss Mehmet and Enver Hoxha has been open and evident since the early 1970s, a time of which he himself is a witness eyepiece. Regarding this, among other things, Ali told us: “Although Mehmeti and Enver had old contradictions and conflicts with each other, even since the end of the War, I do not know and I never believed that Mehmeti had a plan any conspiracy for the physical elimination of Enver, as he (Enver) accused him, immediately after the event of December 18, 1981, which, among other things, are written in black and white, also in the book “Titists” that Enver published in 1982, mainly in the chapter “Synoptic picture of the polyagent Mehmet Shehu”. If Mehmeti had such a plan, he would normally have charged me, as the most trusted man he had with me, and we had the opportunity, to kill Enver Hoxha forty times a day. But this is not the case, because in 1973, when Enver suffered a heart attack, it was Mehmeti who took the most care of him, going to him twice a day to see his health condition in villa No. 4. at the “Palace” of Brigades ”where Enver was staying after the illness. On the contrary, it was Enver who fostered the contradictions between them. Around 1975, when the Plenum of the Central Committee of the ALP was held, which dismissed Kiço Ngjela from the post of Minister of Trade, Kiço came to the headquarters of the Prime Minister, where Mehmeti had called him to officially communicate the dismissal. He was very upset and came hoping that Mehmeti would help him, as he had the closest friend, which was known by all. Mehmeti loved Kiço very much and always said that: he was the only minister who did not need to control him, as he had a dormant mind that he did all the work that belonged to him. That day, Mehmeti was very upset and as soon as Kiço came, he said: ‘I have nothing to do; this is no longer in my hands. I did the impossible… ‘! After Kiço left, I entered his office and, slightly overcoming the confidentiality he had allowed me, I said: Boss and Kiço were fired…?! Mehmeti, who had never spoken to us about those works before, muttered a few words as if he were talking to himself, saying: Ehhh mor Ali, these are so deep works that you cannot understand them. They are waiting for me with scissors coming out of the wings, (and imitated the scissors with two fingers), until I remain like a stick…! (At that time, his two main assistants, Deputy Prime Ministers Koço Theodhosi and Abdyl Këllezi, and the Minister of Foreign Trade, Vasil Kati, were also dismissed). After we left the meeting of the Plenum, unlike all the members of the Politburo who stayed in Tirana, Mehmeti and I went to Durrës, to the summer residence on the beach. While we were going there, from the car radio, we heard the communiqué of the Central Committee of the ALP, announcing the dismissal of Kiço Ngjela. Remembering that Mehmet was napping, I said to him: Boss, did you hear him? He replied: “Yes, but the bells are ringing higher”, recalled Aliu, the bodyguard of the former prime minister, that period in the mid-70s when, Mehmet Shehu, waited from moment to moment the blow from Enver Hoxha, as he had fired three of his top aides.
Who was Ali Cheno?
Ali Çeno was born on September 27, 1943 in the city of Tirana, while his father is originally from Gjirokastra but he was also born in Tirana, where his family moved at the beginning of the last century and they lived in a house near “Avni Rustemi” Square, (where Ali’s wife, Jeta Çeno, still lives today), while Ali’s mother is from the well-known Seseri family of Kruja.
In 1963, Ali graduated from the “Skënderbej” Military School and then the “Enver Hoxha” United School of Officers. From the benches of the “Skënderbej” school, Aliu was distinguished for his strong physique, which caught the eye of the then boxing coach at the “Partizani” Sports Club, Ali Kastrati, who immediately included him in that team (near Hysen). Shariz of Ramiz Sadushi) after removing him from the volleyball team of the “Partizani” team where Aliu participated. In addition to volleyball and boxing, Ali was also involved in athletics, reaching the Army champion in multiplayer and several other sports. He has represented the Albanian Army by participating in many races (military competition) in several international activities of the armies of friendly countries, such as China, Korea, Vietnam, etc.
After graduating from the United School of Officers “Enver Hoxha”, Aliu was appointed as an instructor and chief of Military Training for parachuting, in the Security Battalion of the Ministry of People’s Defense, or as it was otherwise known at the time “Department of Diko Zeqos ”. In that ward, for more than 10 years in a row, he engaged in parachuting, preparing and launching about 1000 skydivers per year, in almost every country in Albania. In one of the major military exercises that took place in the district of Fier in 1971, Aliu made a spectacular demonstration parachute jump, opening it only 100 m. near the ground, which excited the many present who attended that exercise and the Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu himself who assisted there, who severely rebuked Ali.
Immediately after that training, Mehmet Shehu spoke with the Chief of Army Staff, Petrit Dumen, who told him that: Ali was one of the most trained officers and the pride of the elite of Army officers. After that, Prime Minister Shehu ordered Petrit Dumen to bring that officer to his escort, appointing him to the position of commander of the escort group, a position which Ali held until December 18, 1981, when his chief was found dead in his villa. In that period of time, Aliu, continued the Police School of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Sauk (today the Academy of Order) and the Higher Institute of Physical Education, “Vojo Kushi”, thus receiving two other diplomas.
After the event of December 18, 1981, when his boss, Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu, was found lifeless in the bedroom of his villa, Ali was initially transferred to Cërrik, appointing him as Chief of Training in the Brigade of that city where he worked for only three months, after which he was arrested, accused of being an “accomplice in the hostile activity” of his boss Mehmet Shehu. After the arrest, Ali Çeno was kept in the investigator for more than a year and a half, handcuffed and with a case on his head, being inhumanly tortured day and night to accept the accusation that: “his boss Mehmet Shehu , had ordered him to assassinate Enver Hoxha and that he had been a member of Xhevdet Mustafa’s gang, as well as an agent of several foreign intelligence agencies, and Mehmet Shehu’s courier with these agencies “.
On these charges Ali Cheno was sentenced to 10 years in prison, serving him mostly in the infamous Burrell prison. He was released from prison in early 1991 with the fall of the communist regime in Albania. After 1991, Ali worked for some time as a Physical Education teacher in the “Mihal Grameno” and “Labinoti” schools of the capital, and then in several different jobs, until he retired. Ali Cheno passed away in August 2019. /Memorie.al
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