By Marcel Hila
Memorie.al/Abuse in prisons and crimes of communism. Testimony Llambro Nesturi, former political prisoner, suffering in the prisons of Ballsh, Qafë Barit and Spaç. “On the day of their release, they forced the prisoners to say ‘Long live the Party’! But, I said to them: With permission, Commissar, do I not have a short day to do it now”?
Mr. Llambro, when were you arrested and on what charges?
I was arrested around the ’80s in Saranda. I was working as a driver and I was drinking coffee in the club, when the Security officers come and say to me: Come with us! I thought they would have some documents to send to Tirana, since I worked as a driver. “No,” they told me, “we have other jobs.”
Prosecutor Spiro Peçi came. After completing the paperwork, I asked him why I had been arrested. He told me: “You have been arrested for agitation and propaganda against the popular power.” This was a fabricated accusation, ostensibly as if I were going to leave for Greece, since it was close to the border. The person who came out as a witness was their spy. If I had faced him today, I would have killed him, but he has been dead for about 10 years.
How were you treated during the investigation?
I was tortured to accept what they wanted, fabricated things. I accepted the accusations that they were pressuring me and the beating started…! In the trial, 3 people were convicted at the same time: me, my brother-in-law and my nephew. The prosecutor told me: “We cut the dress in the investigator with Trifon Toska, the chief investigator”. I turned to him and said, “The dress is waiting for us in court, not you.” “No,” he told me, “what we say the court will do.” “Well,” I said, “why are you taking us to court?” Give us the sentence directly and keep working. Take us to the camp or kill us”! “No,” he said, “you will say in court, ‘I ask to be shot!’ “They are useless enough to say, ‘Here the court sentenced them.’
In court they had prepared everything we had to say. At the hearing, the trial panel asked me, “What do you want from us?” I replied: “Where do you have something in hand? “If you release me for 1 year, I will get 10 more from these others, from the prosecutor”. “Do not speak like that”! – The prosecutor told me. I was sentenced to 10 years, but I did 7 years.
In which prison did you serve your sentence?
I was brought to Ballsh 2 months before Mehmet Shehu was killed, then they took us to Qafë-Bari, at night. They remembered that Mallakastra would be set up and the prison would be blown up.
There were many elders in Ballsh who died in a row, elders from Gjirokastra accused of poisoning the city water, but they could hardly stand where they had the power to do these things.
Kasëm Kaçi says to me: “Hey, what does it look like”? There was an almost naked old man. “Yes, he is almost unconscious,” I told him. “Huh, huh,” he turned to me, “but he has poison in his tongue.” That’s to suffer! “But who will he poison?” – I told. – “He has no power to speak, no more to poison!”
I was also in Spaç prison, where I worked in the mine, and in Qafë Barit prison. When people were interned, they were sent from the North to the South, while those from the South to the North. The palaces in Qafë Bar were also interned.
My family was in a difficult situation: they were selling some flowers, wild cabbage and sending me some coffee packages. The letters we exchanged were read by the Security. My family has come to me only 3 times in prison, in 7 years in total that I did as a convict. They could not.
How were the conditions of the prisoners in these prisons and how were they treated?
A revolt broke out in the Qafë Barit prison that a boy from Puka, who had been under investigation for 11 months, had a fever. A doctor from Kosovo, who was convicted, tells the commander not to take the boy to work, that his norm would be done by other fellow prisoners. But the commander refused and this was a reason that the prisoners revolted, destroyed public baths, shot the police.
Police troops came from Puka, Fushë Arrëzi, army planes by order of Zylyftar Ramiz flew over our heads…! Commander Dalip Xhabolli was taken to the investigator. It was 100 kg. when he entered, all that colossus and after he came out was not even 40 kg.!
In Qafë – Bari a prisoner who died before being released was taken to a village in Fushë Arrëz. They took them in carts, made a grave for them and covered them with nothing, without any sign.
It is known that the prisoners in these prisons worked in the mines. How was the workload and could you handle it?
The work plan in Qafë-Bari was to make 7 copper wagons. Captain to give a note that you have realized the plan. If you do not carry out the plan, eat wood and the next day you have to make up for what you lacked. In these conditions we helped each other.
Neither fascism did their tortures. They dragged the man in the snow, opened his mouth and poured hot tea on him: “Why did you not make the wagons? Who told you not to do them? ” And if you answered that the area where you worked had no material and therefore the wagons were not filled, then what was waiting for you was wood.
There was a form for each prisoner. The Prison Operational Worker had people he rewarded by releasing them early. They went to every dungeon and collected information that he should be punished, that he has committed this or that crime.
They provoked you to say something against Enver, so that, when the day of release came, they would punish you again, because they did not want you to come out with a full sentence.
I had a heart attack in prison. I was hurt by prison, by suffering, and I had heart surgery. In the dungeon, where the dog ate food, in that cage we ate too. A friend who was a policeman told me: “Do not eat there, because that is where dog food is made.
Eat only dry bread”! So what did my heart do? The day of release came. Vaid Lame told me: “Do not say ‘Long lives the Party!’ Because the Party does not love you or me. We will be released, Llambro. It will be a little late, but they will also suffer what they have done to us, they will do to them too!
The camp gathered on Sunday. But when you were released, you had to say: “Long live the Party” !, but I did not say. I was released on parole, that is, I had completed my days.
“Today you will be released,” the camp commissioner told me, “get out of here!” He no longer called you “defendant.” “What do you have to say?” he asked me. I said: “With permission, Commissar, do not miss any day to do it now, because I am far away.” He revolted, took the papers and slammed them and said: “You are incorrigible, Llambro”! Then my fellow prisoners took me by the hand and walked me around the camp.
In what year did you complete your sentence?
I left in 1988. I was married and had two children. The kids kicked me out of school. The woman lost her job and collected flowers and grass from the mountain and lived with them. When he went to the store, in the meat queue, they called him an enemy. No one spoke to them orally.
When I was released from prison, I was taken to a hard-working job. If you do not, you do not get paid. The brigadier assigned me a job with some women. The women stand up and say, “Why are we going to work with the enemy?” We were offended everywhere!
How did you expect the advent of democracy?
The advent of democracy was a great joy. Ahh, to have money, to make a dinner, to eat all of Saranda!
Did you hope that those who caused you this evil would one day be killed by conscience and come to apologize to you?
The one who testified in court, I saw after I got out of prison, but he was hiding from me. He never apologized to me! He was an officer and he was sentenced to be shot in Korça; even his wife had stolen the club and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Usually, whoever was in prison for theft was recruited and made a spy?
Thank you Mr. Llambro for sharing with us these painful memories for you. Good health and long life!
Thank you Mr. Marcel for this work you are doing, as future generations know what happened to us, so that the horrors we have gone through will not be repeated. Memorie.al