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Torture, beatings and wounds on the body / Barbaric violence and killing of Albanians in European prisons, the Albanian state is powerless to react
Written by SOT.COM.AL 29 Mars 2023
In the second part of the show "Në Shënjestër" the issue of prisoners with Albanian citizenship who lost their lives in European prisons as a result of violence by the guards and not only was addressed.
One of them is Refik Mata, who died in Tarascon prison in France. He was found dead in his cell on December 17, 2021, just a few days before the turn of the year.
He had been arrested for theft and was serving a sentence which he would have to serve until February 2024.
But he would most likely leave prison earlier, probably in February 2022.
The French authorities said that the 29-year-old had committed suicide, but his family never believed this version.
They said that their relative did not have much time left to leave the cell and therefore there was no reason to end his life.
"My brother Refiku had no reason to commit suicide. He only had a few months left in prison and would be released. He couldn't wait for this to happen", said Bekim Mata.
But while, just like in the case of Briken Hoxha, the family expected that Refik Mata would soon gain freedom and return to them, instead of this joyful news, they also received the bitter news of the change in the life of their beloved man .
"I talked with my brother until the early hours of the morning on the day we were informed that he had committed suicide. His friends had also spoken to me", says Bekim Mata's testimony.
Refik Mata's family members never believed the version of suicide. For this reason, they requested that an autopsy be performed on the body of their man.
"We asked for an autopsy to be performed in order to reveal the truth. The prison authorities tried to hide the truth", says Bekim Mata's testimony.
This conviction was increased even more by the family, after the violence that the guards of this prison allegedly used against Refik Mata.
This, since on October 7, 2021, just two months before he was found dead in his cell, Refik Mata appeared at the court session for his extradition to Albania, with visible signs of violence.
According to family members, he had signs of violence on his face and other parts of his body.
For this reason, the Mata family, after the death of their man, started their own private investigations, gathering evidence inside the cell about what had happened to him.
Meanwhile, lawyer Julie Boano (Zhuli Bono), just a few days after the serious incident, went to the prison cell herself together with the victim's family members to get his personal belongings.
"My brother had a conflict with the guards. They had used violence against him. The prison authorities decided to change his cell the night before his hearing. The reasons why they did this were never explained to us. As a family, we have doubts that the prison authorities are hiding the truth", declares Bekim Mata.
In order to prove this version, Bekim Mata submitted to the Albanian court some notarial declarations signed by his brother's friends, who testified that Refiku was raped in the cell.
This raised even more suspicions that the 29-year-old did not commit suicide, but died due to violence.
Like other family members who have lost their relatives in European prisons, without knowing the true cause, the Mata family also went on their legal journey to seek justice.
But while he did not find it in France, this family requested this right from the Albanian authorities, who in this case also closed their eyes and ears, not returning any answer, for the fate of an Albanian citizen, did you say that he did not exist for our justice.
A bad luck that seems to follow the Albanians wherever they are, who are abandoned by their country, as if they are in freedom, even when they are deprived of one.
While Mata's family members are not yet familiar with the autopsy, as it was not made available to them, with the claim that the investigations were continued in France.
"I filed two reports, one in France and one in Italy. I also addressed the prosecutor's office in Albania. But I have not received any response.
My brother is not an addict and I say this with conviction. I want to learn the truth about what happened to my brother", declares Bekim Mata.
Julie Boano herself (Zhuli Bono), said that regarding the injuries her client had on his body as a result of the violence, he had not given explanations in court.
But he was surprised by the fact that there was a report about him from the prison authorities of Tarasconi, about some incidents he had created during his stay there.
"When the judge asked him how he got those marks, my client did not give a reason. Refik had started working in the prison and two days later his brother had decided to visit him. He was fine. There have been several reports from prison officials that Refiku was blamed for several incidents within the prison.
These reports surprised us because before the prison in Tarascon, Refiku had been imprisoned in Nisa and there was no special situation", lawyer Julie Boano testifies.
Another Albanian who was listed among the many who lost their lives in European prisons is Mentor Rexha.
He was a 36-year-old man from Lezha, serving his sentence in Plomeur (Plomur) prison in France.
The news of his death in the cell was first reported by the French media, which announced that a prisoner was found dead in this prison and that the young man most likely committed suicide in the cell, in the early hours of the morning of February 1. 2020.
But even in this case, the family members did not believe this version.
They suspected that Mentor Rexha had been killed inside the prison where he had been for a few months.
As in the case of the Albanian Refik Mata, the family members of Mentor Rexha also raised accusations that their relative was raped by the guards and as a result lost his life.
They entered the morgue, and said they saw the signs of violence on the body of their relative and documented them.
As evidence that his death was not as the French authorities had reported, but a murder that needed to be investigated.
But while mourning began in the Rexha family, according to French media, the young man was found hanging by security guards inside his cell. But there was never a full investigation into the case, just like before, in the case of the Albanian Florenc Beqiraj, the first Albanian who is said to have lost his life in French prisons.
He was reported to have committed suicide in December 2017, in the Marseille prison, but according to his family, the 23-year-old was raped and later died under unclear circumstances at the Nord hospital in Marseille.
But while many Albanians have lost their lives in French prisons, no less have died violently in Greek prisons.
The Albanian Ilia Kareli, whose real name was Kudret Kume, is perhaps the most sensational case that signifies violence inside prisons against Albanians.
The footage of him being abused by Greek guards shocked public opinion in Albania and Greece.
He died on March 27, 2014.
The Greek media of the time wrote that he was tortured by the officials of the 'Nigrita' prison.
"The 42-year-old Ilia Kareli did not manage to live more than 7.5 hours in the 'Nigrita' prison. He was transferred to this prison at 15.40 and was found dead at 23.15.
But the possibility is not excluded that he died even before that, after he was taken to his beaten cell at 6:38 p.m.," the investigation file states.
The result of the autopsy revealed that Kareli had a hemorrhage on the head and more than 30 wounds in different parts of the body.
Coronary arteries were also damaged. He died as a result of myocardial ischemic attack.
"The victim was hit in all parts of the body, even the right eye was completely cracked, the left chest was completely crushed, he died only from the trauma caused by the blow", the file states.
But even though the images of violence that quickly made the rounds of the media, did not leave any doubts about the causes of his death, in the file of the Albanian Ilia Kareli, the prosecutors wrote that he died unexpectedly.
"The torture inflicted on the accused is chronologically related to his death. It caused severe stress and pain to the victim, which activated the ischemic attack mechanism." it says in the investigative file.
Karel's death was not only due to myocardial ischemia, but also due to injuries.
But even though there was a long investigation into the case, which lasted several years, the punishments of the Greek justice for the violent guards were "depraved", in relation to their criminal offense and the cruel violence that caused the death of a prisoner, whose fate bad in this case, was being Albanian.
"I went to Greece but I didn't meet him. He asked, but they didn't let him. That's why he will be upset and did this work. He shouldn't have committed that crime, but maybe he could bear it and did it, the government should punish him, punish him, but not massacre him," declared Ila Kareli's mother at that time.
According to the claim, six of the violent guards were sentenced to 5 years in prison. Three others to six years in prison. As well as three others, including the guard and a bodyguard, with seven years in prison.
"The autopsy that was performed on his body revealed that Karel had received continuous blows all over his body. Among the tortures was the throwing of very cold water by the prison guards in the room known as the 'fridge' of the prisons. They were focused on the "phalanx" method of torture," the investigation file states.
They used an improvised plait with a sheet, which had been confiscated in the past during searches of detainees' cells. With this, they inflicted multiple strikes, in a methodical and organized manner, in an area that was not filmed, obviously because it would not be possible to investigate later who was carrying out specific actions.
The murderous police argued the barbaric violence of Ilia Kareli as a revenge for the loss of life of their colleague, Jorgo Cironi, murder inside the prison cell which they thought was committed by Ilia Kareli.
"The torture continued and then he was left in the cell seriously injured.
In the 60-page file, the torture by the guards is attributed to revenge due to the loss of life of one of their colleagues in Malandrino prison. Kareli had stayed in this prison before, before he was transferred to the 'Nigrita' prison", it was said at that time in the Greek media.
Greek media reports say that it was Kareli who had killed the policeman Jorgo Cironi.
But was this a sufficient motive for such barbaric violence against a convict.
And would they have behaved the same way, if the convict was of their nationality?
But what is the truth is that in all the stories of Albanians who have lost their lives in Greek prisons, the Albanian state seems non-existent, or to say powerless to react.
Despite the fact that prisoners, regardless of the crime they may have committed, deserve the same rights as free citizens,
Meanwhile, the law-enforcement bodies in Albania seem to have found the shortest way, that of putting the lid on their archmort, not wanting worries, as the simplest way to close the investigations once and for all./ In Shënjester