The first part
Memorie.al publishes an accurate document extracted from the State Central Archive in Tirana (fund of the former Central Committee of the ALP), which bears the “secret” logo and belongs to 1987, where there is a report-information of the Albanian ambassador Idriz Bardhi, who was serving in Vienna at the time, informed his superiors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tirana about the incident that had happened to the diplomat of the Albanian embassy in Prague, Vullnet Thanasi, who had been arrested by the Austrian police authorities. after being caught at one of the Austrian border customs with 3,000 packs of Marlboro cigarettes trying to be smuggled. The whole unknown story of Hysni Kapos’s nephew, who in the late 1970s when he served as a State Security officer, through a letter sent to Enver Hoxha, accused his superior, Deputy Minister of Works Interior Minister, Feçor Shehu, who was also the Director of State Security, as an agent of UDB…!? His dismissal after that letter and sending as a simple employee to Bulqiza prison where he worked until 1982 when Feçor Shehu was arrested and sending him to the Albanian embassy in Prague, where he was arrested for “cigarette smuggling”, e after the three champions of ‘Ward 326’ brought the ‘postal package’ to Tirana, he ended up in prison again, but this time with handcuffs in his hands, as a political prisoner… !?
In the last week of August 1987, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tirana, by means of a coded telegram with the initials ‘Top Secret’, an unusual information report arrived. The Albanian Ambassador in Vienna, Idriz Bardhi, informed his superiors in Tirana about a very serious event that took place on August 21 on the border between Austria and Czechoslovakia. In the seven-page report, he described in detail the arrest of Albanian diplomat Vullnet Thanasi by Austrian police authorities, who accused him of “cigarette smuggling” after he was caught red-handed with 300 packs of cigarettes, which were found in his car with diplomatic license plates.
According to Ambassador Bardhi, the Austrian newspaper “KURIER” had written about this event, a copy of which he had attached to the report-information in question, which he had urgently sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But who was Vullnet Thanasi, what was his past, how was he recruited in the ranks of the Albanian diplomatic service and what consequences did he have from that event, when even after he was released from arrest (after the fat payment made by the Albanian side in a “gentlemen’s agreement” with the official Austrian authorities), he jumped out of the car after punching his colleague diplomat (Kujtim Myzyri) and fled towards the Czechoslovak border ?!
Related to this, as well as the event of his arrest by the Czechoslovak secret services and the bringing of “postal packages” to Tirana by his former colleagues of the Albanian secret service (State Security and those of the Special Forces RENEA), are all things unknown, as they were never made public after the ’90s and there is no written line about them?! This is also due to the fact that personally Vullnet Thanasi himself, or even his former colleagues, have never agreed to make this public, covering more and more with mystery that distant event of the past 33 years?! (Maybe also for the fact that he “paid” for the mistake he made while suffering in prison in Qafë-Bari ?!)
The only one who has written several lines regarding the event in question of Vullnet Thanasi, is Hil Lushaku (former commander for years of Special Forces, Department 326 of the Ministry of Interior), who in his book SPECIALS, ELITA OF THE ALBANIAN POLICE ”(Mirgeerealb Publications, Tirana 2015, p. 354), among others in the portrait he makes of his colleague, Labo Gani Çapo, states:“ Remembering the training and services of that time, he (Labo Çapo), brings to attention a “special” service successfully performed by a group of selected sambo wrestlers (Muharrem Abazi at the helm), who went to Prague and accompanied to Albania an Albanian diplomat, called Vullnet Thanasi, very well trained physically, which dictated the need for highly skilled sambo wrestlers in all directions.
But anyway, even after these few lines of Mr. Lushaku, the event of the “kidnapping” of Vullnet Thanasi in Czechoslovakia and his behavior “postal package” in Albania, still remains a mystery?! And what is already known about him, is only the event that became the reason for his arrest, which is made known only by these already declassified archival documents and published for the first time, exclusively by Memorie.al.
Report-information of Ambassador Idriz Bardhi in Vienna, for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tirana
EMBASSY OF THE SOCIALIST PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC
Nr. 183 Prot. Coming on 26.8.1987
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
T i r an ë
Attached we are sending you information about the incident that happened with Vullnet Thanasi, as well as the copy of the newspaper “Kurier” dated August 24, 1987 for this event.
A M B A S A D O R I
I N F O R M A C I O N
On 21.81987 around 16.00, the duty officer of the embassy Arben Iliriani, was informed by the central Vienna Customs that at the border point between Czechoslovakia and Austria, near the Austrian city Hallabrun, was caught for cigarette smuggling, the Albanian diplomat of the Embassy of Prague, V, who had been arrested by customs authorities and was to be brought to Vienna for further investigation. The customs officer told the duty officer the name and surname of the person, the passport number and the license plate of the car he was traveling in. He also requested that a representative of our embassy in Vienna be present during the investigation process.
The duty officer immediately informed Petrit Bushati, who called the Central Customs to ask how things were going. The Customs Officer once again confirmed what he had said to the duty officer and said that they still did not have full information about the event, again requesting that when Vullnet Thanasi arrives in Vienna, an embassy representative be at the customs to clarify further. the issue. From us, the customs officer was told that this was not possible and that some mistake or misunderstanding would have been made.
Before going to the customs offices, to verify the matter, thinking that it was not a misunderstanding or provocation, we called our embassy in Prague, Comrade Idriz Dhrami, who told us that Vullnet Thanasi should be in Prague, because in the morning he had left the embassy to do some work and that he had his diplomatic passport at the Embassy.
At around 18.00, comrades P. Bushati, I. Çepani and K. Brati went to the customs offices, where they met with the customs officer, with whom they talked on the phone. He was told that customs officials had not yet brought Vullnet Thanasi to Vienna and that he was expected to arrive in an hour. He made it clear to his comrades that the above-mentioned man was under arrest and that a bail of 70,000 shillings had to be paid for his conditional release. Meanwhile, the comrades returned to the Embassy where they consulted with comrade Idriz Bardhi, who had just arrived from Tirana. It was decided that the case should be treated with wisdom and calm and an attempt should be made to release Vullnet Thanasi from custody, arguing that he has diplomatic immunity and according to the relevant convention, he could not be detained and that the embassy undertook to clarify well the issue after the release of Vullnet Thanasi.
Around 8 pm, the three comrades of our embassy went back to the customs offices, where after ten minutes three customs officers, one of them armed, brought Vullnet Thanasi, whom they had put in the middle.
The inspector of the Illegal Tobacco Traffic Section, Zips, invited our friends to go to his office to further clarify the matter. He said that in the presence of us and Vullnet Thanasi, a report would be drafted, in which the circumstances of the event and the statements of the guilty party would be written. He also explained that, according to the instructions of the customs, in such cases only representatives of certain embassies were called to be present, in which Albania was also involved, and this was done to create mitigating circumstances and to find solutions. suitable. Then he read a process that was held at the border where it said:
At 15.30 on 21.8.1987, at the border point between Hallabrunn, an Austrian city, and Znajmi, a Czechoslovak city, a Lada car with Prague diplomatic license plates was stopped. The Austrian customs officer asked Vullnet Thanas if he had anything to declare at customs and he replied that there was nothing. The customs officer asked him again if he had any cigarettes and Vullnet Thanasi told him that he had only one pack (10 packs) of “Marlboro” cigarettes, which he had in the first seat of the car. The customs officer asked him if there were any more and Vullnet Thanasi told him that there were no more, offering the customs officer two packs of cigarettes from the pack he had in the first seat. The customs officer then asked him to do a thorough inspection of the car, but the aforementioned objected, telling him that he enjoys diplomatic status. Then Vullnet Thanasi told him that he did not understand German and the conversation took place in English, which he spoke and understood well. After the customs officer insisted on opening the back luggage of the car, it was found that in a large black bag there were 300 packs (3,000 packs) of Marlboro cigarettes. When asked by Customs who he had these cigarettes for and where he wanted to take them, Vullnet Thanasi said he had them for some Albanian drivers in Vienna. Then in the process it was said that according to Austrian laws the illegal trafficking of tobacco which is a state monopoly was banned, therefore Vullnet Thanasi was arrested.
After reading these minutes, Inspector Zips asked if we agreed to be mediators and translators to clarify the matter.
Sh. Petrit Bushati told that before starting the drafting of a second report, as representatives of the Albanian Embassy in Austria, we ask for the release of Vullnet Thanasi from arrest and then we are ready to further clarify the circumstances of the event. He told you that you cannot detain a diplomat, regardless of why he is accused. And that according to the convention on diplomatic immunity, he should be released or declared an undesirable person in Austria and ordered to leave as soon as possible.
Inspector Zips, after this intervention, read the Austrian law, according to which only diplomats accredited in Austria enjoy diplomatic immunity and those diplomats who are assigned to another country and in transit, pass through Austria. Comrade Petrit Bushati then asked if this law had ever been applied in a similar case and the customs officials told him that these were ordinary cases and that many diplomats from other countries had been caught in cases of illegal import of goods into Austria, were arrested and released only after a fine or bail was paid. Petrit said that the issue is not clear whether we are really dealing with a smuggling case here, because Vullnet Thanasi says that he did not agree with the customs officers at the border.
Vienna, 25.8.1987 A M B A S A D O R I
Vullnet Thanasi, the former Security Officer who wrote a letter to Enver Hoxha, accusing his superior, Feçorr Shehu, of being a UDB agent
Not only the distant event of 1987 which has been shrouded in mystery for years, but also the biography of Vullnet Thanasi himself, is almost completely unknown! According to some testimonies of his former colleagues, it turns out that Vullnet Thanasi is the nephew of Hysni Kapos (sister’s son) and he was born in the village of Tragjas in Vlora, where his father’s origin was from. After studying and graduating from the school of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tirana (Sauk), in the mid-60s (Insurance branch), for several years he served as a State Security officer and in 1969 -’70, completed a training course for “reconnaissance officer” in Sauk. His career in those organs lasted until the late 70s, when it is said that he had a collision, or rather a conflict with his superior, Feçorr Shehu, and as a result, he was forced to ‘wrote a letter to Enver Hoxha, where, among other things, it is said that he accused Feçorr Shehu (then Director of State Security and Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs), also as an agent of UDB…! Which apparently led to his dismissal from the post of Security Officer, and his sending as a file worker to some prison camps (Institutions for the Rehabilitation of Criminal Offenses), such as Bulqiza, etc. This “easy measure” against him, is said to have been taken, also for the fact that he was the nephew of Hysni Kapos?! In that position, Thanasi exercised his duty until 1982, when Feçorr Shehu was arrested on charges of being “an enemy and close collaborator of Kadri Hazbi and Mehmet Shehu.” After this event, “lucky” for Vullnet, after his “prophecy” came true, because Feçorr Shehu was really accused as an “agent” of UDB, Thanasi was rehabilitated and sent to serve as a “diplomat” at the Albanian embassy in Prague. (His appointment was also influenced by the one-year course as a “reconnaissance officer” that Vullnet Thanasi had completed in Sauk, Tirana in 1969 – ’70s). In that function, Vullneti served until the end of August 1987, when the event with the “cigarette smuggling” happened to him, which is also mentioned in the archival document that is published for the first time exclusively by Memorie.al in this article. Memorie.al