Memorie.al publishes the full defense document made to Father Anton Harapi in the “Court of Regency” in February 1946, his lawyer, Dr. Spiro Stringa, who since then and by his colleagues, well-known lawyers and jurists who had graduated from the most prestigious universities in the West, has been described as one of the most brilliant defenses that can be made in all trials of the communist countries of Eastern Europe, where “collaborators and enemies of the people” were tried and convicted. The whole word of the defense of the lawyer Stringa, who after making a complete “overview” of the whole life and religious, patriotic and political activity of Pater Anton, published there some statements and evidence that he had taken from some names known as Professor Gabriel Meksi, Age Gruda, etc., who shed light on Harap’s patriotic and patriotic past, as well as the great help he had given to the communists during the German occupation of the country, removing him from prison. or forgive the lives of many of them.
“Father Anton Harapi, a well-known name in this small Albania, and therefore there is no need to present it to you, because he is known as a pure and idealistic Albanian. Whoever had the opportunity to meet with Father Anton Harapi, has left with the best memories that there was a man in front of his eyes in the full sense of the word, as imagined by the villager, the mountaineer and the citizen. Who has not been touched, Mr. Judges, by the voice of Father Anton Harapi, when he, without fear, raised his voice for the protection of Albanian rights, when Shqipnija was a utopia, a dream, a meteor. Well, Judges, this dream, this utopia, this meteor, was molded by Father Anton Harapi together with other patriots in the most difficult times, and you make it a visible and tangible reality, and you make the name ALBANIA heard ‘and above. This despised Albania was left behind, the means of trade of foreign powers, to be the subject of conversation, and most recently the voice of the arbnuer to be heard. Judges can not be judged, no one without knowing his past, this is what the nature of natural and positive Law demands. We cannot take Father Anton Harapi as he is accused, because it would be a sin, a rape against his past. “Father Anton Harapi is not for the ‘divide et impera’ emblem, he is not one of those who came with suitcases on his arm, and on the most convenient occasion, one day.”
This is what lawyer Dr. Spiro Stringa, in defense of his client, Father Anton Harapi in the “Regency Court” in February 1946, where he was being tried as “enemy of the people.” But who was the lawyer Dr. Spiro Stringa and how did he protect Father Anton Harapi? In this regard, we are aware of the original documents donated to us by the family of lawyer Stringa and Memorie.al publishes in full starting from this article.
Who was Father Anton Harapi?
Father Anton Harapi was born in the village of Shiroka in Shkodra in 1888. He received his first lessons in the city of Shkodra and then continued his higher studies in Vienna for Theology and Philosophy. After his ordination as a priest, he served as a parish priest in the village of Grude, which at that time was included under the Principality of Montenegro. Padre Anthony then returned to his hometown of Shkodra, where he served for several years as director of the Franciscan College. After that, Father Anthony also worked as the director of the “Illyricum” gymnasium, where he taught Philosophy. During the years 1941-‘43 Padre Antoni was appointed as the Provincial of the Franciscans of Albania, a position which he held until the end of 1944, at the end of the war. A few days after the German occupation of Albania, Father Anthony was summoned and accepted the post of regent in the High Council of State, which included Lef Nosi, Mehdi Frashëri and Fuat Dibra. After the end of the war and the coming to power of the communists in November 1944, Father Anthony did not leave Albania, but hid in the highlands of Shkodra to escape the persecution of the communists. From the beginning of 1946, he was arrested in the house where he was hiding and appeared in court before the Special Court in Tirana, which with decision no. 9 of dt. February 19, 1946, sentenced him to death by firing squad, calling him a war criminal. What was the past of Father Anton Harapi and what was his activity, religious, journalistic, political, etc., that the communists sentenced to death. In connection with this activity of his, the famous and brilliant defense made by his lawyer, Dr. Spiro Stringa, in that trial that started on February 11, 1946 in the hall of the Cinema “Kosova” in Tirana, (the original defense document was given to us by his son. Mr. Pandi Stringa) and we are publishing that defense. complete in the following article, publishing it in the original version, as written by him, where only subheadings are editorial of Memorie.al, extracted integrally from its text.
The defense speech of the lawyer Dr. Spiro Stringës, in the trial against Father Anton Harapi
Judge, Judges, a name of the Albanian past. Judge Gentlemen Father Anton Harapin, for what is and not for what can be assumed. It is with great comfort, Mr. Judges, that I take the floor in defense of the defendant Father Anton Harapi; it is a sadness that rules my soul, a human sadness and not of a lawyer, of a citizen and not of a defender, miserable over what you have been called upon. Mr. Judges, I responded to the Public indictment. It is a profound trepidation for my modest professional powers, in the face of the heavy and terrible accusations leveled at Father Anton Harapi, and especially for the heavy shadow that rules this courtroom during the trial, where it seemed that every voice of humanity was absent. instead.
Mr. President, allow me to address with you my greetings of gratitude that, with so much mastery and impartiality, you are leading this difficult and difficult process, a greeting that at the same time extends to the representative of World Law. The duty of the defense counsel is a social necessity, and the condition ‘sine quanon’ of the well-being of every Nation, and that is why today I, together with a thousand colleagues, am here to bring the clarifying word about the case for which the defendants are being tried, in this a hall that, as I pointed out in the Special Court, has taken on these moments, the solemnity of a shrine, in which not only the watchful eyes of the defendants’ relatives are directed, but the whole of Albania without distinction, and especially the outside world, which values our political maturity, our humanity, our brotherhood, freedom of opinion and especially compassion for the defeated.
Lawyer Stringa: Why do I protect Father Antoni?
In every judgment, Justice must reign, and this must be replaced by any other human feeling. Judge, Gentlemen Judges, without preconceptions, you have as a principle ‘fiat justitia pereat mundus’, an emblem for every wise Judge and stripped of any animosity, a virtue of arrogance that honors every State. The judge has a duty to respect the law, but also to apply it with the utmost leniency, and when this goal is achieved, every citizen is happy to boast about the institution of Justice that is applied in his country. And on these principles, I relied and especially more on the inexhaustible human feelings and mercy of the Albanian people, when I took over the protection of Father Anton Harapi.
Father Anton Harapi, a well-known name in this small Albania, and therefore there is no need to present it to you, because he is known as a pure and idealistic Albanian. Whoever had the opportunity to meet with Father Anton Harapi, has left with the best memories that there was a man in front of his eyes in the full sense of the word, as imagined by the villager, the mountaineer and the citizen. Who has not been touched, Mr. Judges, by the voice of Father Anton Harapi, when he, without fear, raised his voice for the protection of Albanian rights, when Shqipnija was a utopia, a dream, a meteor. Well, Judges, this dream, this utopia, this meteor, was molded by Father Anton Harapi together with other patriots in the most difficult times, and you make it a visible and tangible reality, and you make the name ALBANIA heard ‘and above.
This despised Albania was left behind, the means of trade of foreign powers, to be the subject of conversation, and most recently the voice of the arbnuer to be heard. Judges can not be judged, no one without knowing his past, this is what the nature of natural and positive Law demands. We cannot take Father Anton Harapi as he is accused, because it would be a sin, a rape against his past. Father Anton Harapi, there is no ‘divide et impera’ emblem, he is not one of those who came with suitcases on his arm, and on the most convenient occasion, with a hik one day.
In Father Anton Harapi, Mr. Judges, meskinism has not spoken, but altruism has found a place in his person. Father Anton Harapi is heavily accused, Mr. Judges, and therefore deserves to be heard, to be tried with blood-coldness, with dignity, as Justice demands, the pedestal of every Nation. Father Anton Harapi, was born, grew up and developed in this Albania, his passion. You do not do acrobatics to win money, titles, but you get tired of contributing to the common good, because Albanian blood flows in his country; he does not get rich, he does not take advantage of his position, but he stands with those dirty sandals, with a rope around his waist: his only heir.
And now, let’s look at what Father Anton Harapi is accused of during the foreign occupations. Apart from religious, anti-Albanian elements, preparer of April 7, close collaborator of the occupier, propagandist in favor of the non-enemy thesis; Here are the accusations against Father Anton Harapi in the first place. Father Anton Harapi, did not sow discord between the various elements here in Albania, he tried to be a good Shepherd united in the common good, he expressed his opinion with the greatest clarity in the Star of Light. Here is what Father Anton Harapi emphasizes in the Rivista Hylli i Dritës, in No. 5, May VI, 1930, in the article: “Three zanamare or armonia among the various elements in Albania”, on page 262, among others: “… So it is not a utopia to remember that the religious elements in Albania can be rooted in something husband and wife; Obstacles are really strong, but they are not insurmountable, and I think like the Germans, the British, the Americans, although they have a strong change of faith, they collapse in payment, one by one our beliefs do not prevent us from falling apart as friends. “brother, enough to love us.”
This is how Father Anton Harapi preaches on the brotherhood of the elements, and does not plant thorns and thistles on the feet of the Albanians. And it could not be otherwise, because it would destroy itself, the culture, so the accusation in this regard remains out of place, and disappears. But, there are more, Mr. Judges, from which it turns out that Father Anton Harapi has never been an obstacle to the unification of the elements here in Albania, on the contrary, he loved this union, and emphasized: “Do we want an Albanian with him? all Albanians? to end once and for all the words and phrases: Refractory Muhammadans! Anti-Albanian Catholics! Greek Orthodox! We have had, yes, alas poor Muhammadans, Orthodox and Catholics, and we have had and still have true Albanians, Orthodox and Catholics; valuable and great, but neither Muhammad’s has any reason to remain a servant, nor will the Christian remember himself getting on his feet. With his own blood he secured the freedom of the Homeland Catholics, Orthodox and Mohammedans: Gjeçovi and Gurakuqi, Çerçiz Topulli and Bajram Curri, Gërmenji and Negovani have no difference, but are one in thought and decision, in deed and in death.
They do their duty, to seal with blood what they were; it remains for us to seal together what we are: the brother of one blood “. And he emphasized this unwavering belief in the union of the elements more and better, in the speech he gave on the remains of the martyrs Çerçiz Topulli and Mustafa Qulli, Here is what he expressed in this case: “Stop! ku veni burra? Çerçiz and Muço, there are two words with Jue Shkodra Kreshnike here in the Assembly log, before you part. Do you want to leave Shkodra, and go to the place where you first saw the rays of the Sun, where like healthy shoots you joyfully grew taller, from where Shqipnija rose and shone. Let them praise, but for you Gjinokastra and Leskovik, the places where you were born but a little less will not rejoice with Jue Shkodra, the place you did not die but were born for the Homeland. I’m not asking you who you are or where you are going. Wherever you went white be; where you sat, the gold shone. Your ideal tells me who you are. I do not care what side you are on and what faith you had, it is enough to know that you believe in one God and like a clear crystal the blood of the Albanians flows among the rivers. Bright Gentlemen. But, before you leave here and on these bones, an ideal symbol, strength and unity, let us extend our hand to our husbands, Tosks and Ghegs, Muhammadans and Christians, and with the faith of men, with the Albanian faith, let us connect for to keep the untouched Albanian a true God, a happy homeland to make the new Albania strong and drunk for Skanderbeg. Let us prove to the world that Albanians are like-minded men, that they can be Tosks and Ghegs, Muhammadans and Christians, of the well-known true Albanians “.
Father Anton Harapi, works silently for this Albania, which today is accused of betraying him, of making his grave, preparing the black day of April 7. It is a serious accusation to print in itself, for the one who has a little membrane, for the one who has a dignity, for the one who has melted what he had in his hand, what he could, for the benefit of the Albanian cause. It is an indisputable and undeniable fact that not only the heroic people of Shkodra know but all of Albania, that in 1918 Father Anton Harapi leads Hot, Grude and Triepsh, and with them falls in Shkodra where they hold demonstrations. National despite the objections of the French authorities of that time. Raises together with the other Franciscans on June 12, 1913, the National Flag in their Belfry; protests along with others why Europe wants to keep Shkodra separated from Albania. This is the anti-patriotism of Father Anton Harapi; Here is how Father Anton Harapi does not love Albania.
Harapi, friend of Gurakuqi and Noli
It is Father Anton Harapi ay who makes the big deal of the “Titoni-Venizelos” agreement come to light with its details, in the Albanian public opinion, which teaches in greater detail how and how our delegation from that time fight that deal. Sing, Gentlemen Judges, The Star of Light No. 5 of May 1934, page 219. So, if Father Anton Harapi had been one of the members of the field preparation for April 7, there is no way understands the unmasking of the treaty in question by Father Anton Harapi. This unmasking produced an energetic protest of the Shkodra Consulate, but to no avail, because Father Anton Harapi was invincible and did not beg for anything. So the accusation in this regard disappears and leaves no trace. On the contrary, Father Anton Harapi, Mr. Judges, has fought with flesh and blood against the Zogollian regime and the corruption of the old and rusty systems, and becomes the anti-sign of a more humane and just time, as it has been molded since smallness with altruistic feelings.
He is closely associated with Luigj Gurakuqi, one of the first Pioneers of the National Renaissance, one of the closest co-workers of Imzot Fan Noli, and together they attacked the anti-People’s regime of Zog, through the Fletora “Ora e Maleve “; so where is the anti-popular spirit of Father Anton Harapi? where is the diabolical and lying soul of Father Anton Harapi? Yes, Honorable Mention, it is true that in 1935, the Korça boys raised their voices and went on a hunger strike; he told the red Tirana that it is enough with the arbitrary choice, that the people need to move, they need help, to express their free will, and we see in the Star of Light in No.11, Nandor month, the article “BREAD “, And here is what it says:” 28 Nandor. The balconies of our municipalities are full of people. Empty speech, obligatory to mention, echoes from fairies, which I do not know.
Father Anthony was unaware of April 7, ’39
Father Anton Harapi, it is confirmed that he did not know about the preparation of April 7, with the statements made by the other defendant Maliq Bushati, because he claims that, after meeting with Giro, he goes to Italy and calls Bahri Omar, and i nep instructions to deal with Mustafa Kruja, who, in conversations he had with the defendant Maliq Bushati, told in detail the names of external and internal persons who were implicated in the preparation of the fatal date of April 7, but the name of Father Anton Harapi, is not mentioned. The best fact, Judges, is that Father Harapi was unaware of April 7th.
Anton Harapi did not have a hand in the preparation of April 7, it is also that his name does not appear in the published list that contains the names of those who had worked before for the fatal date mentioned above. When the fascist armies of Mussolini’s imperialist Italy set foot on Arbëresh land, the voice of Father Anton Harapi broke through and opposed the fascist yoke. Conte Ciano himself states in his diary what I mentioned above; and here is what he emphasizes in this diary, among others: “The idea of personal union, finds many objections. Everyone agrees on a Prince of Savoia house, or rather, they prefer me. I have long conversations with many proud, strong-headed, from whom those of Shkodra appear, instigated by the Catholic Clergy. ”In this regard, see the Union Notebook No. 185, dated 2 / August / 945.
If you take the trouble, Gentlemen of the Court, to investigate who this Claire is, you will find Father Anton Harapi. Father Anton Harapi, persistently defended him before the Court of Mr. I did not say this, and you mentioned a name that was a member of the Shkodra delegation, Mr. Zejnel Brojen, whom you can ask as much as you can. Yes, why didn’t a person who participated in various missions come out and appear before the People’s Court and accuse Father Anton Harapi of treason against the Homeland, because of the distortion of Father Anton Harapi’s strong conviction? it is not true. This fact should be enough, Mr. Judges, to convince you that Father Anton Harapi protested the occupation of Albania. Yes, why don’t we see Father Anton Harapi become Minister or Prime Minister during the Italian occupation? At the time when the Ministers were exchanged according to the wish of Luogotenence, which came only persons who were closely connected with Italian politics. Yes, why Father Anton Harapi, during the Italian occupation, is not decorated, does not receive any title, but stands silently in his work?
Yes, why don’t we see Father Anton Harapi holding a conference during the Italian occupation, propagandizing for the fascist impeachment, or praising the occupier’s policy? Yes, why did Father Anton Harapi not fill his pockets, at a time when the fascist empire was emptying money left and right, as some leaders, unfortunately Albanians, did? The character, the education, the past patriotism, and what was emphasized above, deny that Father Anton Harapi was in an agreement with fascist Italy, before April 7, 1939, for the occupation of Albania. The occupation of Albania was not prepared by Father Anton Harapi; some unscrupulous, some in which popular feeling had been completely lost, some who forgot the Albanian tradition, some who denied their mother’s breast, joined Mussolini’s megalomania and stubbornness, the tolerance of the great powers, the indifference of the neighbors, caused the occupation of Shqipnis.
Statement of prof. Gabriel Meksi: Father Antoni has been a great patriot for me
It is not our conviction, Mr. Judges, that Father Anton Harapi was anti-Italian, but Mr. Prof. Gabriel Meksi, one of the valuable teachers who knows and weighs the evidence, and it can not be assumed that he trumpeted what Father Anton Harapi wanted. Mr. Meksi clearly states in his statement that: “During this time from 1928 to 1944, I had various conversations and exchanges of mourning with Father Anton Harapi, of which I resulted as an Albanian patriot and with anti-Italian sentiments, and always stressed the necessary need to unite all the elements, for the well-being of the Albanian people “. As I pointed out above, Judges, the best fact is that Father Anton Harapi has never made an anti-Albanian policy in favor of Italy, because the Italians would have speculated on this fact in every way by trumpeting it on the radio. , through the press for their own purposes, as they did for other events that interested them.
It is Father Anton Harapi, Mr. Judges, who, no matter how much in 1941, does not lead the Star of Light, responds to Cordignano, with the nickname “Criticus”, as follows: Mos Do not trust me. Well, this is a fact that shocked the Albanian public. The pen of the well-known writer shot the pen without the right of existence eks We do not need to judge it: Cordignano has judged the vein. With a cynicism that is strange, there is no pain that he falls and touches and destroys what is himself, the Albanian is more cordial, he waits for his writing to be read in public, as they would like to tell us: even this time, good luck to you. “We have nothing else to say, but we unite with all Albanians who really understand, know, protest and shut up in one word, your article Cordignano, is an assassination attempt against a Nation”.
Witnesses of the public prosecution wanted to reduce this value of the protest, not to attach any importance to it, emphasizing that even the traitor, close and dirty collaborator of the occupier, Ernest Koliqi, intervened with this issue and made Cordignano leave. from Shqypnia. Yes, it is true, but the witnesses forgot that it was not Ernest Koliqi who voluntarily intervened in this matter, but with the teachers of Shkodra, glory and honor Shqypnis, who coerced Ernest Koliqi and imposed their will to remove Cordignano, and Padre Anton Harapi – so much associated with fascism – as the accusation says, did not wash his hands, did not seduce an indifferent spectator, but raised his arbnuer voice against Cordignano’s meanness and contempt.
Now, can it be argued, Judges, with full conscience and peace of mind, that Father Anton Harapi is anti-Albanian, anti-popular, traitor and co-worker of fascism? No, I believe, because that is what the most basic logic requires. Let us now proceed with the second accusation made against the defendant Father Anton Harapi.
Initiator for the formation of the Executive Committee of the so-called National Assembly, Member of the regency, inspirer, instigator, assistant to the occupier in criminal acts, such as murder, torture, forced displacement, internment, etc., close associate of German generals, inspirer and of the traitorous organization Balli Kombëtar dhe Legaliteti, founder of the League of Shkodra, saboteur of the Democratic Power, coming to an agreement with Mark Gjon Markaj, etc., chairman of the Commission for sentencing Gjysh Gjoni to death, as well as 25 militants of the Nac Movement – Liberation.
Madam Judges, what will be expressed below does not reflect, except the mentality of those who, after the capitulation of Italy, took over the reins of the State, so every word, expression, has nothing to do with systems or persons, but is address only the issue objectively as they judged at the time they were taking the heavy burden of the State administration, and so, before entering and analyzing the activity of Father Anton Harapi during this period, and throwing a eye of the Albanian interior.
Italy capitulates, hopes for a free Albania are revived. Everyone is looking to do something, without realizing that an even stronger and more dangerous enemy was coming to the gates of Albania.
Those who took on heavy responsibilities did not know that they would have no power to cope with the situation that arose, and in good faith, they fell into error. Mejtuen that they would live well with the path they followed, but that without bad intentions, they ruined Albania. They searched without seeing, with their eyes closed. /Memorie.al