By Marcel Hila
Memorie.al/ Missing: Dom Ejëll Pjetri Kovaçi. Sufferers: Two sisters, Angje e Tone (Antonia), of whom Angjelina Preka was convicted of agitation and propaganda, for participating in murders and other charges she never found out about. He was sentenced to imprisonment in Shkodra and Tirana. He never married. Dom Ejëll Pjetri Kovaçi (Engjëll Kovaçi), born in 1920 in the village of Hajmel in Shkodra, arrested twice, once on charges of agitation and propaganda, when he was sentenced to 5 years and sentenced to 3. After his release, he was appointed Bishop of Kryez .
He was arrested for the second time on August 14, 1958, on the charge that: in October-November 1951, he killed his collaborator Marka Gjergjin, in the village of Qela in Puka, inside his room, together with the saboteur Zef Pjetër Marashi and that sister, Angelina, was a direct participant in the murder; he was also accused of removing the corpse and hiding the fact of the murder in the cell.
The priest was tortured and forced to sign and plead guilty. But the real reason was the conflict with the ruling power, because of his disagreement with the policy towards the Catholic Church and his opposition to sign a statute of the Church, drafted according to the interests of the communists. He was sentenced to death and shot for a felony. Today still missing.
Testimony Angjelina Preka, sister: “Now my tears have run out, my life has run out, ours … Then let them do what they want; say what they want … Only I am alive. Ours have a blanket! At first, when the brother became a priest, he was assigned to Koman; In Koman we spent three years with him, njaty, we, the two sisters, in Koman, alone, without anyone. From Koman he was assigned to Qelëz.
Mrs. Angjelina, what happened in Qelëz? Killed the chairman of the Council or someone else?
Yes, a murder happened! They were close, here and here: The door of the cell here, the church further, the door of the church there. The yard, the chatter, here it…! I was in the kitchen. My sister was in Shkodra that day. My brother has been to his office. The office was there, then up the stairs to the kitchen. There was a scuffle…!
Who did you fight with?
The villagers, there, with each other, that one of them had killed their father. The fight started. They were two brothers and they injured the little one and brought me to the kitchen. My relatives brought me. I put him in the chair, the desert. I have heard that the wounded are not given water, that if you give it to them, you will die. I was in the kitchen cooking; they come and bring me there all his relatives.
Was he wounded with a rifle or a knife?
With a rifle! And you fight his older brother fights with the killer. The rifles exploded. There were three people with the injured. “Water, water, water!” cried the boy. How old he was, I do not know, was he 15, or 16, or 18, I do not know, that I was a child myself. In conclusion, he begged for water: “Bring me a glass of water”!
I said “no!”, because I had heard this, that the water drowns him, but where was the wound…! Except he had it on his feet. He begged him for water, let him not be desolate … and one of them came to the end, went and got the glass of water, filled it, and they went and gave it to him. I hit the glass and throw it on the ground. This is what I did. The glasses have fallen to the ground. Then the relative of this boy came and took him! That has been what I remember. Therefore, I do not remember very well, how many years have passed…! I remember they arrested the villain, Dom Ejllin. He was sentenced to 5 years for agitation and propaganda. It took three years.
In what year did the injury occur?
By God, I do not remember him! As a result, the brother spent 3 years in prison. Then we went with my sister, we took the cattle at night, and what we had, sheep and pigs and cows, because we also had cows that we milked and lived in ours, and these, pigs, sheep and cows, we took to them at night a family in Rrenc and they kept them. As a result, we came to Shkodra. We left at night and came to Shkodra and did not play for three years. We went to see my brother for three years, because he was forgiven for two years, he did it for three years.
We had the house at Kafja e Madhe. There were two cafes in the square, between the two cafes there was an alley which continued with a turn, which led to the tower of the Markagjons. At that alley we had the house, without entering the turn it was our door. People from the Internal Affairs Branch were passing by, I saw them many times through the glass and, to be honest, I suspected them.
Security Officers or…?
Wow, how Security dressed. We had 6 families of officers. We were down, they up, a yard, a gate. We filled water with them, we stayed with their wives. When Buna, Drini and Kiri fell from outside Shkodra and we had to go to get bread, we became 6 wives and an officer with us, worried that we would drown. Take my bread!
I mean, I never went out with anyone. I had a friend of the nuns, upstairs, in the alley…! Communism came in and kicked us out of the house. We stayed a long time at Serreqët…! Once my sister and I went out with my friend. A young boy, an officer, was following us back. Young me, young she, young sister too.
What was he following you for?
To be honest, I knew nothing in the world. The three of us there, this one also passed…! One day, in the interrogator, Ali Xhunga entered us. He was taken by the person in charge of the dungeons. He went in, closed the door, and started his work…!
Ali Xhunga beat you…?
Yes! Yes, the investigator!
In which way? To fall with your feet, with your fists?
Shoes, punches, as much as you can! To be honest, I could not stand it and shouted. This officer was passing by, he heard and came knocking on the door: “Ali, open it! Ali, hape ”!
This one did not open! He kicked the door edhe! “What are you doing, more Ali”? – He said. “Do you know what this has done?” “What did he do, more…”? – He said. – “Tell me, more, what did he do? I have been following him for three years, three years, from the time he leaves until he returns home. He was behind me and did not do the slightest thing, or a matter of honor, nor to quarrel with anyone, nor anything!
He made no sound. I have not seen him since that day. They know where they took him. Here it is.
Do you report me as you were arrested?
Ah, how I was arrested! I was at home. When his brother was released from prison, he was assigned to Kryezi, but he also had the right to go to Dardhë for Mass, because there was no priest in Dardhë.
He was appointed a priest. I do not know these dates and days…! Yes once he came and told us he was going to Pear. Because I heard from people and we were afraid that they would put him back inside, I said to him: “You are going to Dardë, you have the border close, flee to Yugoslavia, save yourself! You have been doing it for three years, who knows how much they will put you in! ”
Pear falls on the border with Tropoja.
Yes, and it is close to Yugoslavia. And I said, “Go!” “How can I go so that you can both be deported? “Should I hug you?” He told us. “I do not care,” I said, “get rid of you, get rid of them!” Pants for yourself”! Tonia told him the same. “No,” he said, “prison eats and I will not take you by the neck”! He even got himself around the neck for good.
We had a small dog. He grabbed her by the trousers, pulled her in, and let her go. I said: “Come on, more, inside! Do not let the dog go in vain, for he is tearing his trousers! He came in, we barked at the dog and then he ran away. Three or four days later, the brother was arrested. About three men came…!
Was he arrested for the second time?
Yes, for the second time!
What was the charge for the second time?
The same accusation I had.
You were charged with murder in the village? Was one chairman of the Village Council killed, or another?
What chairman? I do not know, I do not know!
In the indictment that was written to you and is in the file, it was said that he was killed in the cell, inside the cell and that you removed him, pulled his body and hid it somewhere. It was also said that you yourself cooperated to hide the body.
Yes, I hid it…!
This is the accusation they made against you?!
I grabbed his hand and broke his glass. For this they even wanted to put me in jail.
Is this an event? Why did this boy die?
Yes, for this event, for this guy. No, no, the boy is not dead. His brother then killed the other man who wounded his brother.
And then they called it that these things happened in the church?
That happened in church and we ate jail…!
Have you both sisters lived together all along?
We were two sisters together.
But why did they separate you?
The minute he came out of the cell, it was just me. But this sister has helped me for 18 and half years.
Then, who invented this shameful accusation?
Ilmi Sahiti with Ali Xhunga, they have been.
I looked at your file and it is Ali Xhunga who asks questions all the time. Do you want to read it or not?
I do not want to read it, nor do I want to!
Do I want to read it to you?
I know, more, that they have been recording me, the prosecutor.
Who was the prosecutor then?
Well, I forgot the name, the head of the prosecution, and the biggest one at the time.
In Albania or in Shkodra?
Arianit Çela! Arianit Çela was recording me there during the trial. I saw that they were filming me, and I told him.
When they made this shameful accusation against you, did they tell you?
Absolutely, they did not tell me anything!
So you did not know at all during the whole investigation?
During the investigation, I did not know what they were saying. I have not confronted anyone, neither my brother, nor strangers.
I mean, only when you went to court did you find out?
When I went to court, then I said: “Ilmi Sahiti and Ali Xhunga did this job”!
Ilmi Sahiti was alive at that time?
Yes, he was alive, a year after I was arrested.
Then Ilmi Sahiti died?
Yes, he poisoned himself or they poisoned him, I do not know…!
It is said that they poisoned Ilmi Sahiti. The newspapers wrote that he had cerebral hemorrhage, even though he was 38 years old.
What he did, he found, of course!
Yes brother, what did he say when he heard this accusation?
Nothing, what did it mean? He could not speak.
Had he been tortured?
38 years old was also your brother, quite young.
Yes, young man, I did not even know he was 38 years old, but 32-33. Yes, I can be wrong, because the mind also has a third, it nuk is not…!
No, Angelina, maybe I’s wrong! I will look at the documents that have been prepared to take to the beatification process in the Vatican.
I remember when they came to pick me up, I said to my brother: “By God, they are arresting you again. The border is there, the shoe, leave, since you have Yugoslavia close”! “I did not do anything to anyone, my, to leave!”
Do you know what your brother’s biggest fault was?
He has done nothing wrong.
Only one big one has it!
He did not sign the statute of the Church, as the regime wanted, and those who did not sign it went to be shot. Wait, if I report you: Dom Ejëlli, Dom Dedë Malaj and Padër Konrad Gjolaj and Dom Tish Lista, who have poisoned him. Conrad was put in jail. These were called the strong ones who refused to sign the statute.
To be honest, I was very tired and did not sleep all night because I was in pain. To put it bluntly, see how my body trembles, even though I do not remember. I already remember this; we had a pear in the yard. We had a table, four chairs and put them there in the yard. On the day my brother was arrested, three people came – three officers – and my sister made them coffee, brought them and they sat there, chatting. “Where is the bridge?” “He went to Dardhë for Mass,” he told him, adding that he also went to Kryez and Dardhë for Mass. When I was in prison, these officers shouted at me: Vatican! Even Ilmi Sahiti, when he came out of the prison in Shkodra, would put me in a mug and bring his head to one side.
How to come to the mug?
He would come up to me and say, “Vatican” in the eyes of women. With hatred, yes, with hatred, how much to swallow me! At the beginning of the year I was convicted, he ran away from life.
He is known as a person who did hatana in Shkodra!
Yes! I had women from the Great Highlands, who told him to release them, because he had promised them. They wrote to him that they had not brought his name to court. I saw them with my own eyes, but he ran away, and they did the punishment, until their forgiveness came.
Who did Ilmi Sahiti meet? With “saboteurs”?
He himself, together with the highlanders of Dukagjini. They were two sisters-in-law, I do not remember their names, to be honest, they wrote to them: “And you promised us that you would accept that you met and do not shoot me, even when the end comes …”!
He left them in prison! Meanwhile, he himself died.
When they came to arrest the brother, we had a room, lo and behold: two sisters, there we slept; the brother had his own room and office in Kryez. They came the day before, asked about the priest and left, then the next day three officers came with a woman, a woman, and went straight into the brother’s office. He had a desk with a key. They went inside the brother’s office: You are under arrest!
They started the control?
What they told him, I do not know. This woman took me, put me in the bedroom, and did the check. When I came out, I saw my sister sitting in a chair and a child of my cousin, without yet entering first grade. I see my brother’s bag. “Hey,” I say to the one who checked, “what did you find?” “No,” he says, “I did not find anything.” My brother had a gold watch, which was given to him, he had it with a chain, but he kept it in his pocket. I noticed that the chain had fallen out and I said to my sister: “Tone, take the boy and when I leave this house, do not stay a second longer, because Dom Ejlli has been arrested”. “How do you know”? – told me. “Look at the chain! Is it his chain? “Therefore, when I leave this house, do not stay any longer.” And so he did, he left and went to Shkodra, to his house.
Have they mistreated the brother?
The six that were, he added, became seven, in a dungeon as big as a crack.
From this moment on, you and your brother are no longer seen, only in the courtroom?
You were convicted in 1959; you were tried in the “Republika” cinema. When you, Angjelina, were first summoned to the investigator, you were accused of complicity in the murder, that is, in the case of that son of Qela?
Yes! I know for a moment!
Namely, this is the charge: Collaborator in murder! Dom Ejëlli, an accomplice in the murder, then made another accusation, which you did not know at all, that they did not tell you anything during the investigation?
For that accusation, for all the accusations they have made against us, for honor and for erz ‘, for all of them, I am thrown into the fire. Lies, lies…! Only one officer has told the truth. In the three years that he has been following me, he reached out and said to Ali Junga: “There is no needle point for betrayal! For three years, I would have understood a thread”!
Ali Xhunga has been a short man…! He is known for the evils he has done in Shkodra. He has had major trials. There was also a certain Nesti Kopali, Zoi Themeli, and a Zoi Shkurti, it was the beginning officers who caused horrors.
Do you know Fritz Radovan who wrote a book about Dom Ejll Kovac? Fritzi lives in Australia. Do you have Fritz’s book?
He will write another book for all those who have not signed the statute.
Ah, journalists also came to me who wanted to publish a book for me, but they asked me for money, one million…! Now my tears are exhausted, my life is exhausted, ours, then let them do what they want, say what they want…! Except I’m alive. Ours have a blanket! I prayed to God in prison. I did not sleep without saying, “Lord, let them not find their mother alive.” and the Lord sent me two years before I went out. A person came to me in prison and told me that someone had been convicted, and said “so … so … there is a blanket”. Then I said: Lord, forgive me; I am glad you did not find him!
Do you know where the bones are?
No, no, I asked for plenty. A friend of the brother came; he was also a priest, the youngest. He came and told us that he had found one of those who shot him, but he was in the hospital. He was afraid to tell us that we would not receive blood that we would not be without people. The brother’s friend went and prayed to God. He came and picked me up and I went to the hospital, but I found him dead. It was not written to find his bones. Then, who asked for it? I’s not a lady, sister paralyzed for so many years. Where could I go, only here, without anyone but God? The great God has helped me and no one else, in other words, the right of the soul, except God, in prison, even here I have come out.
Are you married?
Me? Jo! My sister got married. There were no children. There was already a gentleman, for God’s sake, Tefë Martini, you would have heard his voice.
What does Lef Martin have?
They have also been on the run.
In which country did you make the prison, in Burrel or in Tirana?
In Tirana, I was in tailoring at the time, at Artizanati, and then it closed. They closed it for both men and women. I do not know where the men were taken from. I remember going to the women’s prison was a big yard. The men worked, removing wood. When I got out of the car, there were about 10-15 officers waiting there…!
The director of this Craft prison has been a Sotir Vulkani, a friend of Enver Hoxha, since the beginning of the Communist Party. There were two boys. One boy got a scholarship and went to study in Russia, the other was here. The boy there met a Russian and married her, but when things went awry with the Russians, he did not break up the marriage, nor did he return from Russia. Sotir was then convicted, fired, and the other boy imprisoned. They show that this one, Sotir Vulkani, had invented a torture for the convicts. As a result, his second son, who was put in prison, was tortured with the torture that his father had invented. And he cried: O my father! What hast thou done unto me, O my father? In closing, thank you, Angelina, for agreeing to give this interview to us.
Thank you too, Mr. Marcel, for all that you are doing for our stratum of persecuted and political prisoners that we suffered horrors during the communist regime of Enver Hoxha. Memorie.al
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