By Petraq Xhaçka
Part twenty nine
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
The entrance for us was arranged from the back, through a giant iron gate, leading to a courtyard where all the cars were driven. I was the first to be taken out of the car, handcuffed, just like the whole way. As I walked, I noticed that in the opposite building, where the Foreign Trade offices were, some people were curiously watching this accompanying police operation.
It was the first time I entered the Supreme Court building, and I was surprised to notice that all the way up the stairs, up to the third or fourth floor – I am not sure where the hall was, – at every turn of the stairs, there were soldiers standing ready, which clamped the automatics in a position to give the feeling of higher readiness. Undoubtedly, it was more of a pumped-up readiness, to convince others of the dangerousness of our group and to make us still psychological terror. I walked first. As the first of the bunch should be, I was in a state of unrelenting anxiety, but on the outside, I tried to keep myself calm.
Even our placement in the courtroom was specially thought out. From the trials of the previous group of oilmen or other groups that we have seen in the movies, to the famous Nuremberg trial, for the biggest Nazi criminals in the Second World War, we had seen that the prisoners were placed together next to each other and sometimes with a policeman in between. But no! We had different treatment: I was seated in the first row, squeezed between two policemen; after an empty row but in a straight line, behind me they placed Enriko, likewise with two policemen on his arms: The same way of placement, with an empty row, strictly keeping the line, they placed Mynyri, Luan Kelliçi in turn between the policemen and Petrit Sadushin at the end.
There I found out for the first time how the group was completed and that Petriti and Luani would be tried together with us, regardless of the different dates of the arrests. Such placement, especially the one in a straight line, had nothing to do with our dangerousness, but their fear, lest we talk or compromise with our views, become a block, to discover the truth and blow it up the process. It seems that they were scared like the devil about it, because according to my unshakable conviction, in our courts there was never a more rigged process, more lifeless than this one!
When we all took our seats, still without removing the irons from our hands, the investigators rushed in and started walking between us and the policemen, whispering lightly in our ears, just like your friends do when you are entering the measured exam hall. . – “Look, never turn your head back to look your friend in the eye because a strict attitude will be maintained.” Even when your friend is asking you, you should keep your eyes on the ground. Did you understand”?
I did; “yes” nod. In the hall except for the policemen surrounding us and a few other policemen stationed there – here, there was not a human soul; no civilians, no guests! No one would hear our history fresh, the scenarios with the Russians, the multi-year conspiracies that would be announced there, and would be accepted in silence.
The judging panel consisted of three people, of whom only the president was a lawyer, while the other two members were, as far as I remember, employees from different fields. The jury was presided over by the deputy head of the Supreme Court, a member of the Central Committee of the Party, Eleni Selenica, who had become a master at punishing “hostile groups” in the economy. Of course, I didn’t expect anything from either the court or Eleni, that she, for example, would try even a little to find the truth.
They stood me up to start the questioning session. She went through the formalities with a few questions that only asked for a short affirmative: “yes.” Nothing more! No spark to find out anything was wrong, so that the trial later unravels the unwashed! If only they were crazy! If they had to do such tests, they would never have been able to stay in those positions and ranks for long periods. It was more likely that it would be their turn to sit on the dock, yes, I thought, as traitors to the country. Many of their War comrades had passed there from that group of accused. They knew this; I knew this now too, very well. That’s why I continued the role of the actor, in the film directed by the Labor Party, Security and Investigation.
Out of about an hour and a half that was enough for them to finish work with me, more time was used by the prosecutor of the trial, who is also the former deputy general prosecutor of the Republic, Abaz B. He often intervened, humiliatingly insulting me, calling me an enemy. , saboteur and even Jesuit, (because according to his evil philosophy, people who had dedicated their lives to serving God, like Jesuit priests, were evil enemies of popular power, and people without character). He used all his memorized slogans on me. Even with me he used his well-worn expression, that I was one of those who; “I would kill you at night and cry during the day” and others like that.
When he spoke like that, I answered in my mind, and only in my mind: You evil servant of the dictatorship, do you even understand this process, fake it and pretend it’s real?! You are a criminal, who punishes and kills innocent people, and not me who has never done any harm to any person in my life! You insult me as a saboteur, at a time when I, with my work, have given the country billions of dollars in profit, so that this people do not die of hunger! What about you, what have you given this people? Only victims, only corpses. You are only a liar, as the truth is your primary duty. So, you are the one who kills you at night and cries during the day and not me or my colleagues, who are with me here in front of you, as accused! Starting from the accusations of police agents, which were embroidered on the investigator, without bothering to line up the states, he seemed to sink me with a crushing question:
– “How many countries was put into service”? I was filled with hatred as much as I had, but also restrained when I could have restrained myself even more, I answered: – I don’t know, I don’t remember how many countries I have served. Read it in the indictment, that the investigators noted. This, however indirect and hidden, infuriated both the prosecutor and the judge, and as always, the prosecutor did not delay in getting up and attacking me with his usual banal vocabulary. I just watched him, how he took pleasure in his seemingly triumphant speech, just because no one contradicted him.
Now that I am writing these pages, I have just read a book, not only attractive and beautiful, but also with a deep philosophical content by the well-known humorous writer Pëllumb Kulla, about the vitality of peoples who collect, peel and enjoy their moments of happy even under dictatorship. Like everything in our country, the dictatorship limited the people and the laughter of the people, but still, comedians of the caliber of Skënder Sallak, fished anecdotes with political content and told them in a low voice. Among these anecdotes there were also about the so-called enemies, which were “expertly discovered” by the State Security. Such was the anecdote with the notebook that Enver Hoxha lost.
Although he found the pad the next day, State Security insisted he had made the necessary arrests and eight people had voluntarily admitted to stealing it and handed it over to foreign secret services. Hadn’t these anecdotes reached the ears of these people of “justice”?! Surely yes. Why were they surprised that we also admitted with our free will, that we had stolen the pad from friend Enver?! (I ran out of quotation marks!) During the entire court session, I stood in front of the jury, between two policemen, who did not allow me to even turn my head back, to look into the eyes of my fellow oilmen, to to know their impressions and to feel that they would support me, if I did bam?! Or would we continue to listen to these prophecies and stick to the platform of acceptance that each of us had chosen for ourselves, thinking that we didn’t have a star on our foreheads to be heroes?!
After they finished with me, they put the other members of the group on the same track. The first four of us didn’t make a difference even in the answers. Engineer Petrit Sadushi rejected the accusation, even though he had admitted it to the investigator. He brought to light the truth, that we had not done the things we were accused of, that’s why even the investigators who were very aware of this, were very careful and had taken measures so that we wouldn’t see each other. He did not bring out the fact that the investigators had beaten and pressured him as a reason for his admission to the investigator. He didn’t even open that lid. He only said that; when you accepted them, he was not in order; you had lost the ability to judge.
He had found a special form of protection. But this, however, was indirectly attributed to the violence that had made you lose your logic, and signed unfinished business. Regardless of the form that Petritis used, the fact that he managed to find the courage to proclaim the truth was important. His attitude was severely punished by the prosecutor and the jury, and in the end, the sentence was increased from 18 years, as stated in the pretense, to 23 years in prison!
As two different people, two opposing feelings together, lived for a while in me, during the episode with Petrit Sadushi; the man who had squirmed so long, cracked his bomb even harder, watched him with envy, as the consequences of Petrit’s speech in that hall with only police and investigators, and immediate punishment, convinced the man who had accepted submission, that he had acted not nicely, but more wisely.
As charged with leading the saboteurs, the claim had asked for 25 years of imprisonment for me and another stay would have secured me the capital measure, i.e. the death penalty. The mouth was bitter all the time, with this bitter event, and with this duel of feelings.
So, the only word that the investigators kept was that the path of “acceptance” would leave me alive. This may seem strange, paradoxical, that if you don’t admit what you didn’t do, you are punished more severely, than yes accept it. This is justified by the routine expression, that the accused: “reflected”. Pushing the prisoner towards that solution ensured the dictatorial pyramid, the realization of two goals: On the one hand, the success in the infamous plan, to discover the hostile group that explaining why things were not going well for her, and in turn, the public display of generosity.
Of the five defendants, only two, Petriti and Luani, had one more article than the rest of us, that of agitation and propaganda. It is worth underlining, ironically, that out of the whole court process, only these two accusations stood as true. Petriti, in a conversation, told in an anecdotal way that in the city of Durrës some citizens had been, as usual, for many hours in the long queue for milk. One of them, tired of the long night’s wait, decided to leave, but in order not to miss his turn, he had placed a bust of Enver Hoxha on the row of rafters. I don’t know who had spied on him, but a witness was brought there, who admitted that Petriti had told this anecdote.
The man criticized himself for not reporting this to the Department of Internal Affairs. The desert witness, the jury and the prosecutor, put him in a very difficult situation, they almost did not give an order to arrest him, because he had not denounced. The conversation that engineer Luani had with some of his friends was also true, where he openly expressed his disgust for the morals of a member of the party’s leadership. To my surprise, the court persistently demanded that Luani tell him textually the words he expressed about the leading friend.
They had to have some special purpose and interest, that indirectly in front of the eyes of the policemen present in the hall, the slurs, the vocabulary and the dirty evaluations of this party leader were heard, so that these policemen, then spread them among their comrades theirs, and these would receive the data. They knew that in this way, these statements, even though they were written in the indictment, would take on official life if they were heard in court. These two things were the real crimes committed by two of the five people who were being punished there. These were indeed violations, but they could hardly justify all that pomp and publicity, those unprecedented security measures and those heavy penalties.
Witnesses in my trial, there was no problem. There were a total of four witness engineers, brought there to the detriment of other comrades, but they brought absolutely nothing to support the accusations made. An engineer, they had called him only for a not good consideration, which was expressed about the abilities of a figure from the leadership.
Another engineer, member of the geological-geophysical group at the AGIP Company in Italy, in 1982, said almost nothing. The witness, who was trembling with fear that they had brought him there and was afraid that there might be some consequence, since he was a Greek minority, only expressed the impression that when he was in Italy, he noticed something that did not seem normal to him.
– I – said the witness – I noticed that Enrikoja and Mynyri, one day they were bored.
-Other? Never. They both looked a bit yellow in the face to me.
That was his entire deposition.
This was expected to be connected with the scenarios that Enrikoja and Mynyri built in the hotel, but these were no longer valid, because the investigation itself, brought down the adventures of the hotel, asking for the recruitment of our friends, not in Italy, but many years ago, in Albania. The investigator had removed the hotel, but had forgotten to remove the processed witness. Here are the shameful and illogical facts, the investigation presented in our process!
But what filled the glass of the investigative community was the testimony that came next, made by a colleague who was also a member of this delegation of specialists to Italy. For seismic engineer Jorgji Lengu, we had a pretty good opinion. But after the testimony he gave that day, I was even more moved by his honesty. At least to him we owe the only smiles he brought to our bewildered faces.
The judge asked the witness Jorgji Lengu to tell something about Enriko e Mynyrin and what he noticed during his stay with the group in Italy.
– “Friends of the jury! – the witness started as an introduction. – I have a quality: Nothing escapes my eyes and if I saw something, I never forget it! With this entry, I thought badly of it. I was afraid that he was preparing to bury the two accused, because he was making the event made up by the first one even more convincing. The jury was happily waiting for the continuation of his deposition, hoping to determine whether or not these two engineers had become spies, from the colors of their faces.
– “Describe for us in detail, what did you see and how did you see Enrico and Mynyri those days you stayed in Italy, and especially the day before you returned to Albania” – they encouraged the witness.
In response, engineer Lengu continued his testimony: “Gentlemen, judges, during the entire time we were as a group in Italy, we stayed together and no one left or separated except for a single minute. With the quality I showed you at the beginning, I am telling you that I did not notice anything different, in the face or behavior of these two. If they had any difference, I emphasize once again, in my eyes, they couldn’t escape! They were smiling and happy as always and the color of their faces, I have never seen them different”!
I don’t believe there was a stronger slap, for all the ugly farce that was going on. It was the most accurate testimony, judging by the idle work of the investigative team. But the judges were silent, as they were silent for the entire investigative process, because everyone there was boiling in the cauldron of the dictatorship.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court, within a very short time, on January 10, 1987, announced the sentences, with the charge; “for hostile and sabotaging activity, in the oil industry, with the aim of overthrowing the country’s leadership and popular power”. The punishment was the maximum for me, the leader of the group: 25 years of political imprisonment; Enriko Veiz and Petrit Sadushi were given 23 years each; Mupur Arapi was sentenced to 22 years in prison and Luan Kelliçi to 18 years.
The shame of the investigation was covered with another shame, that of the Supreme Court. The court completely confirmed the thesis of the practice of justice of the bodies of the Albanian communist state. He confirmed that she was formal, that she had no difficulty saying: “Keep healthy the suits that the investigator cut for you and the prosecution sewed for you”! And all this injustice was covered with the slogan “in the name of the people”! Memorie.al
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