By Petraq Xhaçka
Memorie.al/ The purpose of this book is to join the efforts made to present the truths and horrors of the communist dictatorship in Albania. The main purpose of the book is not to show our people or anyone else, that we oilmen have been innocent, because this has become known from publications in our press, from foreign televisions, as well as from direct meetings with the International Forum and the Albanian Human Rights. The author’s desire, is that through this story, together with other stories, fight any manifestation in any form, even moderate, that he may have to create a communist society. I think that even through this bitter personal history, the cruel, treacherous and overbearing face of Enverism will appear, that for half a century, held the knife with the tip in the chest of the Albanian people, with a pine eye, intercepting the movements for salvation from the outside, or rebellion of the people themselves, ready to push the knife to the heart, at the first movement. The events are set in the economic fields where it has appeared most strongly, such as the oil and gas industry, where I was fortunate to pour my energies, for a lifetime, and become a participant and witness in those events. All the events that are written in this memoir are true, not only without any exaggeration or embellishment, but perhaps, I don’t know how much I was able to present the terrifying force of the events that took place in that decadent system of socialism, where no there was no human feeling.
Continues from last issue
Scripts, scripts, scripts!
A few days had passed since the depositions were signed, when the investigators called me into their office and told me they were going to make some changes. They said that after all, they had to remove the names of the members of the Political Bureau, because that seemed more reasonable. Apparently, Ramiz Alia, had postponed their punishment for later. Perhaps he saw that they had become wiser or the general situation demanded that everything be done later. Of course, I can’t know that. About two weeks later, they brought us the indictment, formulated by the investigation. There I learned for the first time that we were agents not of one state, but poly-agents, both of the East and of the West.
Thus, at last, we were “enriched” in our biography, although we had nothing clear, because we had neither accepted nor tired our brains, to give them any such occasion. Even they had not even asked us for this. But these did not matter. Nothing mattered anymore. We, during that inhumane process in the investigator, “we were shamed”, as it happens to prostitutes, who don’t ask if there are one or many clients. It mattered to me that I would no longer stay there, I would no longer see that animal environment. Let them punish us as much as they wanted! It seemed to me that we had just passed the harshest punishment.
I finally learned from the indictment that our group that would soon appear in court consisted of five people: three geological engineers and two geophysical engineers. Until a few days before we went before the judge, I did not know who the other two members of this group would be. November 1986 was a quiet month. The investigation was over. The investigators came and visited us rarely and especially never forgot on Sundays, after the football match, to come back and look at the “cage of the communist miracle”, the prey of their crime.
They wandered peacefully and happily, while I anxiously waited for the day of judgment to be announced and what the punishment would be. I was appointed “head of the hostile group” and for the head, they could give the death penalty. Would they do that too? Why not? When the arrest was made not for punishment, but for political necessity, couldn’t political necessity arise, even to set the firing squads in motion…?!
Meeting with the Prosecutor General
The prosecution had to check the investigative process, if it was conducted according to the laws. But this institution, unfortunately, at that time was always in defense of the state and left the investigators alone, to take the process to the end, so understandably, in the interest of the state. Formally, in case of violation of the rules in the investigative processes, the prosecutors had the right to cancel the investigations, a right that they never exercised, neither with us nor with others.
My arrested colleagues and I, of course, had no idea of these duties and functions of the prosecutor’s office. We learned these many years later. Our entire investigative process, which developed with a flagrant violation of those laws, even if formally, protected some rights of the arrested. From the body that was supposed to protect the laws, no one was ever concerned about these legal violations. In socialism, the people who ran the state made the law, not the written laws.
It is not surprising, but the justice system in Hoxha’s and Ali’s Albania had left the arrested person without any defender, even formally. The prosecutor was the one who, in fact, attacked the defendant the most. Several times in the first months, I asked for the prosecutor to come and tell him the truth, how our investigative process was developing, with torture and pressure, but this request was not fulfilled and I did not see anyone coming. from the center, to verify the process and assist in my investigation. Only once, I remember, a team member came, checked the dungeon, asked how I was and left. I don’t know who they were and why they came.
When I finished writing the final material, as I have elaborated on the previous pages, one day in November, I am called to the interrogation room. When I entered, I saw that in addition to my investigative team, a tall man, dressed in a suit and tie, was sitting at the investigators’ desk. From his clothes and the way, he stood, I understood that he was a responsible person, but my memory also took me to that day when I entered the hall of the Minister of the Interior, who had called me to his office to convey a threat. This person looked to me like the other man who was sitting on the couch, next to the head of the General Investigation.
They removed the handcuffs from my hands, told me to sit at the detainee’s throne and introduced me to the new visitor. This was the first and last time in my life that I talked to that man: he was the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Albania, Rrapi Mino, or in other words, he was supposed to be the guardian angel of law enforcement, or in words still others, he was really the main violator of the laws, in our investigative process. I heard his name indifferently, because I knew that he would not do anything and was in a bag with the investigation.
– “Xhaçka, I read the final investigative material signed by you,” he said in the first words. – And I have an order, which is in your best interest, in the trial you should not move a single hair, from what you have admitted here to the investigator! Every attempt to change something is about your life”! Exactly, this was the defense that the prosecution made to the rights during the investigative process. This was the defense that the prosecutor offered me, the defendant, which according to Hoxha justified the removal of the defense lawyers. This was in itself a continuation of the crime protected by the laws of the communist system. He had been silent not for a day, not a week, not a month, but for almost a year, about the violations of the investigative law by the investigator, and now, to cover up his crime, he gave me the ultimatum, for fear that I , I was telling the truth in court. When Mr. Attorney General ended the ultimatum, I intervened.
– Mr. Attorney General, I want to know if my family is alive and well, if my children are in school or not, and only after that I will say my word. Perhaps he did not expect this statement. With these words, he understood that the possibility was not ruled out that I would drop the whole process and tell the truth. – “I give you the word of honor, of the Prosecutor General of the Republic, that your family is healthy, living where your children were, normally in schools”.
Then I answered: – Mr. Prosecutor, since you took the word of honor, of the highest person of the Albanian Prosecutor’s Office, I believe you and give you my word, that I will not move a single hair, as you said, from what I admitted here to the investigator. Upon hearing my promise, he said with satisfaction: “Very good”! It is clear that the entire role of the Prosecutor’s Office was summed up in the pressure for me to declare even before the trial, what I had forcibly admitted to the investigator. He was aware of everything illegal that had happened to us there, from our arrest, without any basis or facts, from the torture and psychological pressure, to the flagrant violations of the non-participation of his people in any of the investigative sessions. .
He was an accomplice in this heinous crime against a group of innocent oilmen. If I kept the promise I made to the prosecutor, for the sake of the family, in this meeting of a few minutes, for an investigative process of almost a year, he, as I learned later, had lied to me, because my children were not only excluded from their schools, but they did not accept them in any job, they had to live in extremely difficult economic conditions. They wanted to force these young sprouts, to be destroyed physically and morally, and to end up as street urchins. They neither could nor could calculate the sound education with which the children had sinned in our family and especially, they did not calculate the extraordinary care, tripled after my imprisonment, of their mother.
My family, reduced to a handful, lived in great poverty, but with dignity, all the time I was gone. My children, like two little birds, gathered under the arms of their mother, who together with her sister, Tefta, took care of them and kept them close, in these years so difficult for them. But the General Prosecutor had no moral code to be forced to respect, and shamelessly lied to me. He, his investigators and prosecutors, had fraud and crime in their blood and therefore they were in charge of these inhuman bodies, of the dictatorial justice system. How can this prosecutor defend himself, for these flagrant violations of the law, against our investigative process?! He confirmed the Enverist philosophy of the expression, that: “The prosecutor sews the piece of the suit, as the investigator cut it”!
In a real democratic regime, an investigative process would require you to write a long time about the role of the prosecutor, but for such a blackmail of a few minutes, you have nothing more to write. The crime was serious, shameful, cruel, but unfortunately their silence doesn’t let you write anything. Shame on these people! As for those who have not experienced what the Stalinist system is, and what it contains in itself – so that they do not experience crime, dictatorship, poverty, the denial of the most basic human rights, the destruction of the ancient virtues of the nation, I wish them that never suffer such a system.
Cover with the court
Our anxious wait to reach the last link of this injustice of the justice bodies was long. Apparently, the state leadership changed its plans and postponed the trial, after the party congress, during which it triumphantly announced the discovery of our hostile group in the oil industry, a group that has sabotaged this vital sector for the country’s economy. . The party postponed the trial, but the determination of whether we were really enemies or not, which the trial should say, she knew! He knew that at the end of the trial, this would be proven. Well done! In the twentieth century, in the war with the windmills, the Don Quixotes of Albania, had achieved new victories.
The postponement was perhaps related to the risk of bringing to court, before the congress, the names of the members of the Political Bureau, planned to be announced as opponents of the Party. Ramiz Alia may not have had positions strong enough to open a conflict in the Bureau yet. On January 5, 1987, in the morning, the door of my dungeon was creaked open and I saw the group of investigators walk in. They brought me some clean clothes and told me to get dressed because the day of the trial had come. They discussed for a long time about my sweatshirt and decided not to take it with me, because it was very dirty, and it was not good to go to court with it. After I changed, I left the sweatshirt, my close “friend” of the dungeon, because I thought that at dinner I would be back again, right there. They handcuffed me and took me out of the prison building.
The day was very cold and I immediately began to freeze, because I was dressed very thinly. For themselves, they were dressed in coats and overcoats, while I wore a thin jacket and no sweater. My sad eyes were getting used to the surrounding light: I found myself in the middle of a huge pile of vehicles and soldiers. My investigators had not told me anything and I thought that the trial would take place in Fier. They put me in one of those small military cars, accompanied by two policemen and the investigator. In each car they put one of the five of us in the group. At the end of the convoy, there was a truck filled with prison service soldiers.
The cars were set in motion. At first, a police car opened the road, and then our cars followed. To tell you the truth, that huge procession and the extraordinary regime instilled in me a feeling of fear, that I would be sentenced to death and that what I had been told and promised, in exchange for admitting guilt, would be lies . I quickly understood that they were taking us to Tirana, because immediately, the motorcade took the road to the capital. Our cars in line passed in front of the house where my family lived and my eyes were filled with tears. I thought about Jean and the children. Did they know that their most beloved man, the one they had looked up to all their lives with adoration, as a just, beloved man, honored many times with high titles and decorations, now after ten months of suffering, yes they passed in front of the gate of the house, hands tied, like a despised criminal on his way to trial?!
No! Honest people, I cannot describe the strong feelings I experienced in those few fleeting seconds, close to home. Those thoughts that went through my body, shaking my body, did not change anything. The cars continued to drive us slowly towards Tirana. The attendants were constantly communicating with each other with small hand-held radios. Several times the motorcade stopped, and again moved to take us, the living corpses, to the Tirana prison, for the trial, which would open with the disgusting slogan: “in the name of the people”, but which, in fact, was in the name of the leadership, against the people. And now that more than sixteen years have passed since these events, it is impossible to stop my emotions, my tears, for those tragic events. That life I spent working with a rope at the throat has terribly weakened my nervous system.
When we arrived at the prison in Tirana, they took us down one by one, so that we could not look each other in the eye. Knowing the falsity of the process, they were afraid that the truth wouldn’t come out and that’s why they were careful, that our eyes wouldn’t meet, that we wouldn’t give each other any signal, or any collective decision, to tell the truth in court. But we couldn’t do such a thing because, firstly, we all had a good mind, that we would not gain anything, since the court had already decided that we would be punished, and secondly, the punishment would be heavier, because they did not answer and did not account to anyone. Laws made themselves, they were the law, and they would take much worse revenge.
In the prison of Tirana, on the second floor, we passed many iron doors, until we arrived at the sector, which was reserved for us. We learned later that it was the special sector for dangerous enemies of the communist government. The dungeon into which I was put was about four by four meters, with two small windows without glass, at great heights inaccessible to a man of normal height, and fitted with a thick barred net. Who knows how many other sufferers and victims of that regime had spent sleepless nights in that room, waiting for the decision to be made, and perhaps the last nights of their lives!
Immersed in these thoughts, I tried to put the logic of all the events in the investigator to predict the extent of my punishment, but it was very difficult, to prioritize life or death. In these thoughts, I was found by the policeman who opened the iron gate with its heavy bolt. He put handcuffs on me, took me out into the corridor and walking in the opposite direction from where we came, put me in a room that was supposed to be the investigation room. There stood my three investigators, well dressed, as if they were going to the premiere of a play. They ordered me once again to be careful and not to make mistakes and speak differently, because then anything could happen. I, as I was confused, by all that transfer pump from Fieri to Tirana, I didn’t even reach out to him, but I just told him; “yes”, nod.
I was immediately returned to the large cell. There was an unbearable cold, a strong razor wind was blowing, which forced me, even in that limited dungeon, to run to warm up and to somehow get rid of the thoughts that came to my mind. About two hours had passed, the door opened again. This time I was handcuffed by a soldier, who took me a few meters further, from the door of my cell. There was a barber, with a chair, and near him stood a large, elderly officer, speaking a language from the north of the country. He was present throughout the haircut and guard, which the prison barber gave me, to prepare me for the trial. A little later, I was taken to the shower room to wash.
The next morning, after a night where I couldn’t sleep at all, the police came and put us in the same cars, escorted in them, as we came from Fieri, and this time not with two, but with four policemen. We were crossing the boulevard of Tirana, that boulevard that I had passed thousands of times, to go to school or to walk with my friends from my youth, to exchange ideas, to the “beautiful future” that awaited us?! The cars turned around. in the direction of the Supreme Court building. Memorie.al
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