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Luan Hoxha's testimony to the Americans: Shkëlzen Berisha pressured me to send ammunition to Gërdec without delay
Written by SOT.COM.AL 3 Tetor 2023
Today, the Special Court received the full list of SPAK witnesses for the Gërdec tragedy. It is about 71 names, where Shkëlzen Berisha, the son of former prime minister Sali Berisha, will be called for the first time. Among the witnesses, the name of Luan Hoxha, the former chief of the Army Staff, stands out. He left Albania through the border crossing point of Rinas on January 4, 2012. His departure happened at the time when the "Gerdeci" file was being examined at the Court of Appeal, where Luan Hoxha was tried in absentia, even the court that assigned him a defense mainly .
In a cable that the American Embassy in Tirana sent to the Department of State, on June 20, 2009, it is written that Luan Hoxha had complained that Shkëlzen Berisha had pressured him to deliver high-caliber ammunition to Gërdec and without delays. The cable published by VVikileaks claims that when asked by the Embassy if he had reported this fact to the General Prosecutor, Luan Hoxha answered yes".
In September 2011, Luan Hoxha confirmed that he had reported to the American ambassador, but denied that he had spoken about Shkëlzen. In March 2019, Shkëlzen Berisha used Luan Hoxha's denial to defend himself from the accusation as he emphasized "Luan Hoxha himself, in a public statement, says that during the meeting with Withers, Shkëlzen Berisha's name was not mentioned". Luan Hoxha was also requested as a witness in Zamira Durda's report, in 2022, SPAK has stated that it has not found his address as he is abroad. But his inclusion in a new list, recently presented to the court, paves the way for the possibility that Albania will ask for Hoxha's question where he is, by means of letters. This procedure allows the court and the parties to the process to list the questions that are sent to the US and then, Luan Hoxha is questioned in an American court. His answers are returned to the courts in Albania and used as evidence in the "Gërdeci" process.
The full cable of the US embassy
Classified by: Ambassador John l. Withers
1. (C) The persistence and fervor of recent political events, from the passage of controversial constitutional amendments in mid-April to the June 16 vote of five Supreme Court nominees, makes little sense on the surface. Rumors swirl around the capital about what this might be, but top-ranking officials, including Prime Minister Berisha, Speaker Topalli and President Topi are shunning such speculation, focusing on the political struggle at hand. In this increasingly heated political climate, the former Chief of Defense, Luan Hoxha, asked the ambassador to discuss his recent dismissal, his cooperation with the Attorney General and his view of the facts about Gërdec.
2. Në një takim të 17 qershorit që kishte kërkuar me ambasadorin, shefi i Shtabit i shkarkuar së fundmi Luan Hoxha shpalosi anën e tij të historisë në lidhje me shpërthimin e Gërdecit të 15 marsit.
Në ndryshim nga ish-ministri i Mbrojtjes, Fatmir Mediu, i cili nëpërmjet deklaratave publike u vë fajin operativëve të ushtrisë për Gërdecin, Hoxha deklaroi në Ambasadë se që nga fillimi se ish-ministri Mediu ka marrë të gjitha vendimet, nga zgjedhja e Gërdecit si vend për shkatërrimin e municioneve, deri tek llojet e municioneve që do të shkatërroheshin dhe planifikimi i kohës se kur do të bëhej shkatërrimi.
Hoxha pranoi se stafit të tij i ishte thënë të transportonte municionin në atë vend dhe të ruante vendin, asgjë më tepër. Hoxha tha se kur ai vizitoi Gërdecin në mes të 2007-ës, ushtarët e tij po bënin këto dy detyra, dhe në sipërfaqe u duk se s’kishte asgjë të gabuar.
Ai akuzon se gjatë pjesës së dytë të projektit, nisur në dhjetor 2007, ishte urdhëruar nga Mediu, pavarësisht shqetësimit të tij drejtuar me një letër kryeministrit Berisha, zonjës Topalli dhe Mediut. Pas kësaj, presioni mbërriti përmes telefonit nga një "djalë i ri”, i cili më pas u konfirmua si Shkëlzen Berisha, djali i kryeministrit, që e urdhëroi të vijonte dërgimin e municionit të kalibrit të lartë në Gërdec, “pa asnjë vonesë”.
I pyetur nëse e kishte raportuar këtë informacion për Prokurorinë e Përgjithshme, Hoxha u përgjigj “po”, ai kishte dhënë të gjitha informatat dhe dokumentet për hetuesit, me përjashtim të informacionit lidhur me djalin e Berishës. Mbi këtë ai tha se nuk ndihej i sigurt që të fliste.
Ambasadori i tha se nëse hetimet e prokurorisë do të jenë të suksesshme ata që dinë të vërtetën duhet të flasin hapur. Hoxha ishte dakord se në interes të drejtësisë ai duhej të fliste hapur, por nuk konfirmoi që do ta bënte këtë. (Shënim: Hoxha tha se ka plot të tjerë që e dinë këtë informacion).
Koment: Ky është incidenti i dytë që një zyrtar shpreh një shqetësim të fortë, rrethuar me frikë, për sigurinë personale dhe profesionale, në fshehtësi të plotë me Ambasadorin. I pari erdhi nga nënkryetari i Këshillit të Lartë të Drejtësisë.
Some outside support Hoxha's version of events. As head of the army, relations with former minister Mediu were always strained; he seems to have been frequently out of his game, lacking the authority to fulfill the duties of his office.
According to the data, the General Prosecutor seems to have focused her investigation away from the army and Mediu. If Hoxha's version contains true elements, it may help to answer the relevant elements and the bigger question: Why PD has advanced with constant attacks on independent institutions at this very time, alarming the international community and leading it to questioning points for the democratic credentials of Albania when it is before the ratification of the agreement with NATO..."