By Florenc Bakillari
The third part
– The rare story of the villager from Kalivaçi i Tepelena who, after declaring himself as a Security officer, presented himself as the special envoy of Kadri Hazbiu, in the Internal Affairs Branches in Shkodër and Durrës-
Memorie.al / Xhaferr Kanani, the rare character, in his account of the extremely dangerous adventure he undertook in 1960, that of the self-proclaimed State Security officer and then the introduction to “colleagues” in the Department of Internal Affairs of Shkodra and that of Durrës. Even after almost five decades from that time, he wondered about the lack of vigilance there, right in the den, where the plans for the arrests, tortures, persecutions, imprisonments and exiles of dozens of Shkodran citizens were hatched. Xhaferri would be surprised by the presentation and the warm reception given to him by the top leaders of the Internal Affairs Branch of Shkodra, starting with the chairman, Colonel Feçor Shehu, the Chief of Police, Colonel Skënder Vinçani, the Chief of Security, Lieutenant Colonel Hysen Hoxhati , etc. After becoming known in Shkodër, he decided to continue his dangerous game in the city of Durrës. Shkodra would give Xhaferr Kanan, the fake major, the pleasure of accompanying Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu, who visited the northern city in the summer of 1960, while Durrës would accompany Enver Hoxha during his visit to the Labor Party of Albania, Enver Hoxha, accompanied by most of the members of the Political Bureau, had come to the coastal city to see off Maurice Torrez, the head of the Communist Party of France, after his several-day visit to our country. The history of his “inspection, as a special envoy of the minister Kadri Hazbiu” in Shkodër and Durrës, has been described in detail by the character of our article, Xhaferr Kanani, in his long interview, which will be published in several numbers.
Continues from last issue
Did you have any feelings of guilt for someone while you were a self-proclaimed Security officer?
It was never my intention to kill people, whoever they were. Every secret I learned I kept to myself or left where I heard it. Even in the interrogator, when they asked me for names, I didn’t mention any of them, because I didn’t want to harm them. In addition to negative people, in the Internal Affairs Branches in Durrës and Shkodër, there were also good, professional and spiritually good people. To this day, when I turned 70 years old, I feel sorry for the former officers Vasil Sema, Mustafa Beqari, Hamdi Ulqinaku, Sele Brahimi and others, who, out of the desire to help me, created trouble for themselves when I turned out fake officer Above all, I feel guilty for what Vasil Sema suffered.
A very special man with a big heart. Wherever I have gone, after the end of my adventure, I have spoken the best words about that man. His fate was the same as that of 38 other officers and captains who were released. But I am very sorry for what he suffered and I am even sorrier for the fact that someone like Feçor Shehu, who was firmly held in the vertebral column of Enver Hoxha’s system, escaped unscathed and managed to climb the career ladder, until in the position of Minister of the Interior, which, in my opinion, he never deserved.
For eight months in a row, you disguised yourself as a State Security major, but your adventure ended in October 1960. How was Xhaffer Kanan’s fraud operation unraveled?!
That day in October I went to a photography studio to pick up a picture I had taken. Just before I went in, I saw in the studio window my photograph, with the major’s rank magnified. As soon as I entered, I told the photographer that it was not good to expose the photos of the officers of the Ministry of the Interior that the cadres were not allowed to do this. In this particular case, I had my problem because I knew that this way I would attract the attention of those people who knew me and I would suffer. She carried out my order, took it from there and gave it to me, but that day was said to mark the end of my dangerous adventure that cost me years in prison.
I once did a favor to the photographer; I saved her brother from prison. Her brother had beaten someone and the Operative Worker of the area had processed him, preparing the papers to prosecute him. After I took the photo, I left the studio and was heading towards the Internal Affairs Branch of Durrës. At this time, an officer of the Ministry of the Interior from my area, who had the rank of captain, appeared nearby and started calling me by name. I didn’t answer him and continued on my way. He had come for vacation together with his wife at the Convalescence of the Ministry of the Interior. He recognized me and did not leave me, but continued to call me by name. My wife, starting from my indifference, told her not to call because maybe I wasn’t who she thought, but the “colleague” didn’t stop.
He followed me to the Internal Affairs Branch of Durrës. I went inside, while he was stopped at the checkpoint. I asked the duty officer who was upstairs and he told me that the head of the Branch, Colonel Kopi Niko, was there. I went up to the Branch President’s office and luckily found him alone. We greeted each other and after that I took off the ranks, the decorations I had put on, the pistol and put them on the table. At this time, Colonel Kopi Niko asked me what I was doing like this. I told him that I called myself “major”, but in reality I was just a simple man, without rank, without uniform and without any connection with the State Security.
As soon as he learned from me my true identity, that I was a fake officer, he started beating his head with his fists and talking to himself. False, false, he kept repeating, still not believing my words. Kopi Niko was remembering all the conversations and places we had been together. To calm him down, I told him not to worry because I would take care of everything myself and would not tell anything about the conversations I had with him or the places we had gone together. Tensed, Kopi Niko kept talking nonsense until someone knocked on the door.
What happened next in the office of the head of the Durres Branch?
As soon as the silence fell, the crime chief, Fane Xhuveli, entered. Kopi Niko ordered him to go outside, shouting: “False, false, and false”. He was scolded and did not understand anything about what had happened in his superior’s office. Fane Xhuveli, came out shrugging his shoulders. At this time, Kopi Niko approached the phone, dialed a number and picked up the receiver. I heard that he asked the interlocutor to connect him with Kadri Hazbi, but since he answered that Kadri was not in the office, he asked to connect with Mihallaq Ziçishti urgently. Kopi Niko clarified the situation over and over on the phone, and in the end, I heard that Ziçishti ordered him to keep me in the office and not to accept anyone else there until his urgent arrival from Tirana.
Not even an hour passed and the Deputy Minister of the Interior, Mihallaq Ziçishti, was in his office. As soon as he saw me, the general asked me that during the time I was self-proclaimed “major”, where I had gone and with whom I had talked. His question was about clarifying the circumstances that led me to start the adventure of penetration, in the two main Internal Branches, Shkodra and Durrës. A direct question from him was, if I was dealing with any Foreign Service or agency, which had offered me cooperation and in exchange for payment. I replied flatly that I had nothing to do with foreign services and that I had only served my country. Everything I knew, I had kept to myself and decided not to tell anyone. My answer somewhat calmed General Ziçishti, who was convinced that I was not motivated by any bad intentions. So I had no intention of harming my country.
Did the discovery that you were not a Security officer have consequences for the people who had met and accompanied you?
An honorable situation was created. A little later, some major officers of the Ministry of the Interior came, such as General Xhule Çiraku, etc., and from there they took me and took me to the Security Directorate of Tirana. I later learned that Mihallaq Zicishti gathered the staff of the Internal Affairs Branch of Durrës and told them everything about the situation that had been created. He ordered everyone to keep their mouths shut about what had happened, i.e. the fact that a man who was no one had “penetrated” the revolutionary vigilance of the most faithful weapon of the previous system, the State Security. If the secrets of the two Internal Branches were to come out, their cadres were to blame.
It was the first time that such a precedent was created, and here the party, according to Deputy Minister Mihallaq Ziçishti, would stop at concrete analyses, in order to hold accountable and punish the people who had fallen victim to this fraud. No one obeyed the general’s order, since the next morning all of Durrës learned how a young man had deceived State Security officers for eight months in a row. I was in solitary confinement for several days and was interrogated by Colonel Kristo Mushi and Vullnet Jaho, while Aranit Çela cut my arrest warrant under the charge: “Treason against the country and the people and serving a foreign state, the American one”. In the questions they asked me, I want to remember that; where I was paid. I told them that for five and a half months, I was paid by the Internal Affairs Branch in Durrës and my salary was 890 ALL.
How was the payment possible since you did not appear officially in the structure of the Ministry?
This is really strange. The head of finance of the Durrës Interior Branch, Basri Bedini, had talked with the head of finance at the Ministry of the Interior so that I would be paid until I finished my service there and then from the ministry’s account, these ALL would be transferred to the branch that had made the payment. Bedini had even received the signature of his superior. So from May to October, I was paid just like I was a real “major” from the Internal Affairs Department of Durrës.
Where did you sleep during your stay in Durrës?
First, I slept in the “Vollga” hotel where I generally paid. Afterwards, I slept in the “Adriatik” hotel and I did not pay there, the account of my expenses, which was certainly made later during my trial, was 3,300 ALL. These were entrusted to the director of Durrës Tourism, Shaban Kokomani. The latter, I had known after a debate I had with him, as he deliberately stated that; officers of the Ministry of the Interior, “eat bread in vain”! I had information that he was friends with a Polish woman and immediately after that, I told him that we were not at all in vain, as we also knew about the meetings and conversations he had in his office with the foreigner. Kokomani, surprised by the truth that I told him to his face, went to my side and ordered his subordinates to shelter me, eat and drink for free at the “Adriatik” hotel.
How long were you in the inquest?
For about six months I was under a terrible, intense interrogator. I have been subjected to various, severe tortures. They put me in the dungeon and asked me to tell them everything about my activity. They thought that I had connections with foreign services and at the same time, I had betrayed my country. Finding myself in difficulty, I asked Lieutenant Colonel Qemal Balluku to let my investigators go, otherwise I would drown them in the dungeon.
Balluku laughed and told me not to worry as he would consider my request. After the complaint, the investigators stopped bringing me to the dungeon. The lieutenant colonel liked my adventure and always looked at me with pity. Everything about my torture, mistreatment, and arbitrary behavior was organized by Colonel Kristo Mushi, an old man with a bad spirit. I remember that after they mistreated me, they asked me questions about who I served, who I was paid by and other meaningless questions.
During the time you were in the inquest, did you have visits from other people in power?
Kadri Hazbiu came there from December, in 1960. To the latter, I told everything that had happened to me, and after he left, I did not see the interrogators bring me to the cell. After ten days, I would have another interesting meeting, when Lieutenant Colonel Besim Selita took me upstairs to his office, where many powerful people had come to talk to me. I noticed Hysni Kapo at first, but there were also other members of the Politburo. I will narrate more about this conversation another time. After this meeting, the interrogators changed me and I was saved from the hell I had fallen into in the beginning.
Did you meet Kadri Hazbiu only once, while you were under arrest?
At the time when I was isolated in the Security Directorate of Tirana, the former Minister of Interior at that time, Kadri Hazbiu, visited me from time to time. He had psychologized me with his eyes, but also during the conversations we had. I remember that, in one of our conversations, Kadri Hazbiu told me that; I had become like the “horse” of Piluri. I did not understand the meaning of his expression at first. I thought he told me this after my health had declined a lot. I told him that it was true that I had lost some health, but that was normal because I was in prison and not in the Durrës rest home.
Kadriu intervened and told me that he was not talking about health. Then, he started to tell me the story of how Piluri’s “horse” had burned the entire village and that this was a well-known story for the Labëria area. Kadriu told me that, if Piluri’s “horse” had burned a village, I had killed an entire ministry. He told me that, on the one hand, I had done well to have exposed the true vigilance of the Security at the base and that I had sounded the alarm bells, that urgent measures should be taken to remove the disabled. The leaders of the Ministry of the Interior had nowhere to find a better event than my story to do their analysis.
But on the other hand, I no longer had to deal with people who were capable and had not given me any information but in some random situation, had simply had a coffee with me. I took the signal, understanding Kadriu’s words very well, and decided from that moment on not to mention the names I had met or accompanied in the two Internal Branches, in Durrës and Shkodra. There I realized that immediately after my first depositions, measures should have been taken against the persons I had mentioned during the questions to the investigator.
How many people were punished after your arrest?
As far as I learned later, 38 officers in Durrës and Shkodër have been released, while many others have been transferred or reduced in rank. I want to say that, initially, when the terrible interrogators interrogated me, I was honest and I was confessing everything, even mentioning the names of the people I had been with during those eight months, when I declared myself a “major” of State Security. But all my statements were written in the minutes and then they would serve as evidence and materials to convict or expel from the ranks of the Security, all the names I had mentioned.
As soon as they left me, the investigators reported to the governing bodies and none of the first names I mentioned escaped punishment. I understood everything when they came back the next day and asked me for other names. They were careful in their questions, to learn as many names as possible of the persons with whom I had associated. I remember that, Nevzat Haznedari and Rexhep Kolli, were the most negative people I have ever known, as they also asked for information about their friends, whose names I do not want to mention, but I deliberately denied knowing or meeting them, which I had actually done. So, I got the second signal about what was happening outside my cell, especially with the punishments, from Kadri Hazbiu.
All the people who were released, in my opinion, were taken by the neck by the contradictions that existed within the State Security or the Ministry of the Interior, since only a few people were guilty, specifically, the head of the Durrës Internal Branch and the one of the Shkodra Branch, but I can say that the only person responsible for everything that happened was Feçor Shehu, a haughty man who did not deserve to be in the ranks of the Security.
Did Kadri Hazbiu ask you for anything concrete?
Yes, with great finesse, he asked me for information about some officers in Durrës and Shkodër, with whom I had actually only greeted and not even had coffee. At the end of the conversation, Kadriu asked me as an honor that it would be best not to mention them at all during the investigations, as simply mentioning the name would harm them.
I absolutely did not shut them up, and from that day on, I told the investigators that, while the heads of the institutions had respected me, their subordinates had no excuse not to respect me. After all, they were simply doing their duty as, to all intents and purposes, I was a Security Officer and held the rank of Major. Kadriu said that we have very good proofreaders and that’s why we have to protect them.
Do you remember other meetings in the cell?
Curiosity has led many officers to come and look at me in the cell. Some hated me and told me that I had taken their friends and colleagues by the neck, while others told me that I had shown myself to be very good at being able to live among the secrets of the State Security for eight months in a row, without was not even a second part of it. However, I did not ask much about what they said. I had started everything as an adventure, despite the fact that it lasted for months and cost not only me, who was imprisoned, but also dozens of others, who were forced to leave the ranks of the police. Memorie.al
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