By Afrim Imaj
The third part
Memorie.al / “I, the Security Operative of the Burrel Prison, who coexisted with the ‘enemies of the people'”! However, I will try to make this statement; “to respect” in its essence. I say in its essence, that the forms used by the State Security, such as: the secret network, operational techniques, surveillance, postal control and others, have already appeared in the market. In my stories, I will try to be accurate. To be as truthful as possible, I am obliged to mention concrete names, but never those that should remain a secret. I have decided to take these with me to the grave. After finishing the School of the Ministry of the Interior, I started working with the image that they had created for us as “enemies of the class and the motherland”. I did not encounter this image in practice as it was preached to us, and gradually in my consciousness, it began to fade. A powerful influence, in changing the concept created in me about the class enemy, has played “coexistence”, with the convicts of the prison of Burrell, for many years in a row.
Continues from last issue
The trial in the prison offices, for Bashkim Shehu’s divorce
After the former prime minister killed himself, his family was subjected to persecution. The woman, Fiqirete Shehu, was convicted and died in prison. The eldest son, Vladimir, killed himself, while the other two sons, Skenderi and Bashkimi, were convicted and brought to Burrell prison. Union was married and had two children. His wife, Marjeta, was the daughter of Lefter Velça, originally from Kullsi in the Vlora district, at that time, an export driver.
Marjeta was interned in Belsh, together with her two small children. She had a hard time coping with life in these conditions. To get out of this situation, he had sought his father’s opinion to divorce the Union, but he had found his determined opposition. Despite this, she made an independent decision and legally requested a divorce from Bashkim Shehu.
The place where the court hearing on this matter was to be held was designated one of the offices of the Burrell prison command. On the appointed day, Marjeta appeared there, according to the regulation. Her father, Lefteri, who lived in Durrës, was not absent that day either. After Marjeta’s request for divorce was read, Bashkimi was also asked to speak. “I don’t want separation, – he said, – because with Marjeta, I have two children who are everything to me.
Of course also for Marjeta. And their fate, with separated parents, for the reasons that happened between us, I see as very tragic. I don’t want to break up with Marjeta, because with Marjeta I have been connected only by my love for her. I think that it is the same with Marjeta. For all that, I don’t want separation. Yes, this cannot happen, if we don’t both think so. So, in other words, I can’t be formally married to a woman who doesn’t love me anymore. At the end of my speech, Marjeta decides on this matter”.
The chairman of the session asked that Marjeta also say her word. “My last word,” she said, “is reflected in the request I submitted for marital separation.” Before Marjeta finished, Lefter Velça, her father, asked to speak. “I came here to say my word, too,” he said. – I am against what Marjeta is doing. The fate of the Union is also its fate. She is not the first one to have her husband arrested. They knew how to cope with life, as it came to them. Marjeta should do this too, if she is my daughter…”!
So, addressing the Union, Lefter continued: “Whatever happens, Union, you will have me here, at the monthly meetings. I will be by your side, for every need you will have. The prison regulations will not hinder me, as there is a strong family bond between you and me. You Bashkim, you are the father of my nephew and niece. In the end, the divorce decision was taken. The Union, spiritually crushed, met with Lefter and then went to the dungeon. Marjeta, without shaking hands with Bashkim or his father, left in a hurry. Lefter Velca kept his word. He remained close to the Union until he was released from prison.
I tell you the secret meeting of Avdul Banushi with his brothers, after 25 years…!
When he got inside, I closed the door and hugged myself longingly, forgetting the report, Security officer – political convict. After a while, Qamili, the prison salesman, arrived, bringing the ordered coffees and a pack of cigarettes, which I bought every day with my income. I told him that I had met his people and for a moment I watched him carefully, how he would react. Avdul’s eyes shone with tears and his lip trembled. I let him calm down, and then I continued: I also met uncle Hakan.
It is not true that he does not live. He told me that he will find the opportunity to come and meet you. Avduli expressed disbelief and raised the suspicion of some tactical action on my part, to defeat him psychologically, which he also expressed. “Uncle Hakan lives and you will meet him”, I answered loudly. “We don’t leave this conversation,” he intervened somewhat indifferently. – The father died a few years ago. Whatever you tell me, I don’t believe it at all.”
I left it in his mind and there and then, I took out the letters that the brothers sent him. I started to read to him. I hadn’t even finished the first three lines when he started to get really fired up. His strength left him and gradually, he reached a state where he could not contain himself. Hodo’s letter, in particular, made him sobs, forcing me to tear up as well. In the letters, they also wrote about Uncle Hakan, but at this point, he tried to be incredulous.
The thought that his father was not alive, was deeply embedded in his mind and there was no man, mother, to uproot him. We sat together for a long time. There in the office, we also had lunch. Of course, out of sight of others. We finally broke up. After a few days, they informed me that Uncle Hakan had died. I was beyond shocked.
I had thought of some surprises, the thread of which breaks in the middle. I had promised Avdul that I would meet him with his father, but now I won’t be able to. Apart from these, I felt sorry for Uncle Hakan, who did not get to see his son before he closed his eyes. I found the opportunity and one day I went to Gjirokastër, to comfort his family. We met with Hodo, Avdul’s brother, who worked as a teacher, at the “Çajupi” hotel. I comforted him there. “It happened very badly,” Hodua broke the silence. – I say that I have done something good in this regard.
When I felt that my father was passing away, I asked him to give me the last orders for Avdul. I have these recorded. I have also recorded a part of the oils with laws for the father. I say that one day; I will take it to Burrel. He also needs to cry. I believe you will help me, for this…”! On the spot, I approved his idea, which seemed fruitful to me. After drinking coffee, we got up and headed to Zijai’s house, where I would comfort him as usual.
The next morning, after I bought a pack of cigarettes for Avdul, I went to the prison to console him for uncle Hakan’s death. As soon as he came to the office, escorted by the police and without handcuffs, I signaled for us to be left alone, I closed the door and we hugged in a way that would impress others. Without realizing it, we had become very close, forgetting that we belonged to the “opposite trenches”. I could not hold back the tears.
– What do you have? – Avdyli asked me. – Are you all right?
– I have nothing. I have them all well.
– Where have you been, that you haven’t come these days?
– That’s how things came this time. Hodua sent me a telegram where he informed me about uncle Hakan’s death and I went to Gjirokastër for this job. Here’s the telegram! And I put it forward. Then I threw the pack of cigarettes on the table, as usual, and held out my hand to comfort him.
After sitting in silence for a while, he turned to me with a strange look:
– Do I take what you told me to be true? And his eyes watered.
– I’m sorry! You keep taking me for the devil. This is true. I told you, even when I met uncle Hakanin in Gjirokastër. I was sorry that you could not meet him.
After that, he began to cry bitterly. I let him empty himself for a few minutes and then I intervened.
– Come on, hold back now! You are a strong man, and men endure pain. I tried to calm him down…!
The news of his father’s death would torment Avdul a lot, for whom now, the prison clock did not move. For a long time, he was alone in the dungeon, because his roommate had been transferred to another cell. One day he “dares” to ask me to intervene to get out of the dungeon and settle in a room with a bigger space. He also asked me to give him the opportunity to paint. He owned this profession even before he escaped from Albania.
I granted his request and arranged him in a good room for prison conditions, with more space. From a painter in Burrel, my friend, Petrit Gurabardhi, I provided the necessary painter’s tools, such as paper, paints, brushes, oil, pencils, etc. After that, every time I went to his room I would find him painting. One day, he took my leave and painted my portrait, which I keep as a precious memory…!
The meeting, after 25 years!
It was really emotional. Finally, after 25 years, Avdul Banushi was waiting to meet the brothers, Hodo and Zijai. I ordered the office to be prepared, where the meeting would be organized. I went there with the two guests, who had come from Gjirokastra. I entered the prison myself, to take Avdulin from the dungeon. His appearance, he tried to show, that he was going to an ordinary meeting, but when the door opened and he found himself in front of the brothers, he was no longer who he tried to appear. He threw himself into their arms and his eyes filled with tears.
– You cried a lot!, – the first Hodua calmed him down. – We have come to get drunk and not to get drunk. We have a lot of things to say.
Then Hodua began to tell him about the other family members, one by one.
– A few days ago, – continued Hodua, – our father died. He found out you were here and when we were getting ready to come to see you, he died suddenly.
– I have known that the father has died for a long time, – Avduli said, and to tell you the truth, I have a hard time believing you too…!
– Maybe you have your reasons to think so, – added Hodua, – but we have brought here his voice, the bequest he left for you before his death.
– Hear it with your ears and then speak! So, Hodua placed a tape recorder on the table, inserted the tape in question and pressed the button. After a moment, from there, uncle Hakan’s voice, addressing his children, thundered:
– My sons! The years have taken their toll and now death awaits me. This is how this world is. My command is to stay connected to each other. You put aside the grudges that divide you, and find the strength to be united. The only concern I am taking with me is related to a part of my blood, to my son and your brother, to Dule, who we missed for so many years…!
Avduli, as soon as he heard the name mentioned, by a voice he had known for a long time, reacted with lightning: – Yes, for God’s sake! This is father’s voice. The way he mentioned it brought it before my eyes. “Come out”, only he spoke to me like that…! – And the whole thing was written, in this case. After that, he could no longer contain himself. He took the tape recorder in his arm, as if he had his most beloved man. Then he put it to the horse, with a sob: – Oh, father, father! To forgive me for everything…!
A serious situation arose. Hodua, as if more beaten by these situations, collected himself, got up, turned off the tape recorder and turned to Avdul: – Avdul, rest! You are a man and you must find the strength to hold back. It’s painful, I understand. You have to become strong…!
As if without realizing it, about four hours passed. Meetings in Burrel prison lasted only ten minutes and only at the counter. In the case of Avdul, an exception was made, understandably with the permission of the relevant authorities. The Banushi brothers parted, hugging each other several times and ordering each other…!
“Delivery” of Avdul Banushi…!
The meeting and the news from the brothers and other family members created a troubled state for Avduli. I went to him every morning; we lit a cigarette and talked about different topics. I left, leaving him alone. For a moment I thought, I should not be the first to ask, to talk about the problems that interested the work. Let him take the initiative! This would be more effective. Quite by chance, the long-awaited moment came. After a long resistance, in a strong fight with himself, Avduli finally decided to talk to me about his activity and the FRASH organization, the contacts they had with the CIA spies and the help they gave them those for the activity they were developing in the direction of Albania.
But he never admitted that he was at the service of this discovery. Gradually, he started talking about FRASH bases in Milan, Bari and Rome in Italy; Preveza, Ioannina, Igoumenica, Konica and Follorina, in Greece; Ohrid, Ulcinj and Dibër e Madhe, in Yugoslavia. These data, which he had not agreed to show in the investigation process. Although he spoke to me in detail about bases abroad, he did not tell me anything about those inside the country. Furthermore, he told about the terrorist acts that FRASH had committed in Paris, Rome, Athens and Madrid, organized by Avdul himself and with the participation of Sabaudin Haznedari and other members of the organization, in these countries, such as S.K., N.P., L.G., N.V. , etc.
However, this was only the beginning of his surrender. It was necessary to persist with him further. Avduli was a treasure for Sigurimi. I thought it was time to move on to another plan. I started preparations to go to Gjirokastër, together with Avdul…!
“Avduli spent 10 years in Burrel’s cells, we didn’t know anything”!
By shedding light on the reasons for this unknown fact, Piro Nuredimi, the former operative of the Burrel prison, affirms the secret police’s efforts to reveal the mysteries that the convict ‘VIP’ refused to reveal during the marathon process that lasted two years.
“Avduli was in Burrel prison for ten years and the family knew nothing”, testifies Hodo Banushi, his brother, recalling the moment when they were first introduced to the shocking news. He has it fixed in his memory, that winter afternoon, when the unknown guest who came from Burrel, threw the “bomb” in the middle of the house: The escaped brother, 25 years ago, was already in the prison cells, not as ordinary convict, but as the assassin of Enver! In his confession, Hodo Banushi, tells the experiences of the meeting after three decades with Avdul and the vicissitudes that have followed him after the revelation of the story…!
Lord Hodo! In the memoirs of Piro Nuredini, a former security officer in Burrel prison, a secret meeting that you had in Gjirokastër with Avdul Banushi while he was serving his sentence is revealed…?
Facing Avdul after 25 years was really shocking. I remember that, Piro Nuredini called us and we went to meet him, in one of the cells of the Internal Branch of Gjirokastra, where he had been brought in complete secrecy, from the Burrel prison. This ritual lasted four whole days. They were touching moments, especially for Avdul, who asked us and was interested not only in relatives, but in all acquaintances and other villagers. The only hostage he expressed was the fact that he did not manage to meet his father. However, he was relieved to finally be able to see and talk closely with the people dear to his heart.
So, you did not go to meet him in prison, as were the rules of the time for convicts, but they brought him there under the care of the Security. What was behind this unprecedented fact?
At that time, there was no question of finding out what Sigurimi was hiding behind such movements. Later, when Avduli came out of prison, he told us that this secret meeting was a game of the Security, to collect data on foreign intelligence operating in our country. It was, so to speak, a kind of psychological processing, for Avduli to “surrender” and confess things that he had never affirmed…!
What did Sigurimi claim to discover from Avduli, when the investigations and court proceedings against him were closed?
During the marathon process, which lasted two years, Avduli had confirmed everything about his activity. He had even admitted that he had come to assassinate Enver on the day of the military parade. Meanwhile, he had not testified anything about his bases and collaborators in Albania. It gave no information on the plans of the Western Discoveries to overthrow popular power. In short, his entire deposition was summed up in the act he would perform in Tirana. That much, they were obviously not a little for the State Security, but they were insufficient to penetrate the plans of the Western Discovery, against the communist regime in Albania. Avduli, until the end, did not offer any information, even though he was subjected to a whole ordeal of torture and suffering, one of the most inhuman…!
Meanwhile, did you know why Avduli was accused during the investigations and court proceedings?
In his case, the State Security operated with a special scheme, both cynical and diabolical. Avdul’s arrest, investigations and trial have been kept secret from start to finish. Everything, according to him, was followed by a small group of secret police. Even when he was convicted, it was preceded with secrecy, keeping him in a special cell, in the Burrel prison…!
So, even the family members didn’t know…?!
At the time Avduli was being tried, even when he was in prison, we knew him abroad. Only after a few years, we found out that he had been tried and was serving his sentence. The news was brought to us by Piro Nuredini, the Prison Security Operative. I don’t know under what circumstances, but I remember that, one afternoon, he gathered us all and told us that; Avduli was convicted as a foreign intelligence agent, who had come with a mission to kill Enver. He even informed us that he had been in Burrel for 10 years. That’s when, for us, the legends that were talked about up and down, about him, came to an end.
In this case, Piro Nuredini was an intermediary between you and Avdul…?
Regardless of the entrusted task and mission, Piro Nuredini, above all, was a noble boy, who offered us warmth and solidarity, in very difficult moments. Precisely for this and especially for the maturity with which he overcame the delicate relations between us, he became close and respected for our family. We have met and talked with him many times, we have cried and heard each other’s thoughts, like when Avduli was in prison, but also when he came out of Burrell’s hell. The close ties with him have continued without interruption, until the moment when Pirua passed away in a car accident. I’m sorry I didn’t attend his funeral. At that time, I was in Greece and I found out about his tragedy too late. However, Pirua has left many good memories for those who knew him and worked with him…! Memorie.al
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