US embassy cable - 06TIRANA578

MEDIA AND NGO SCRUTINY PROMPTS INVESTIGATION INTO CLAIM OF POLICE BRUTALITY

Identifier: 06TIRANA578
Wikileaks: View 06TIRANA578 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tirana
Created: 2006-06-02 08:36:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PHUM CVIS KFRD KPAO AL
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXYZ0008
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTI #0578/01 1530836
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 020836Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY TIRANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4362
INFO RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS 2916
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1131
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 5278
RUEHVJ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO 0428
RUEHVB/AMEMBASSY ZAGREB 2933
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE
RUFNPKB/COMUSNAVEUR POLAD NAPLES IT
RUEHNA/DEA HQS WASHDC
RUCNFB/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHFJUSC/US CUSTOMS SERVICE WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 2152
RUEHPS/USOFFICE PRISTINA 3413
UNCLAS TIRANA 000578 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/SCE (MBENEDICT) 
NSC FOR BRAUN 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM, CVIS, KFRD, KPAO, AL 
SUBJECT: MEDIA AND NGO SCRUTINY PROMPTS INVESTIGATION INTO 
CLAIM OF POLICE BRUTALITY 
 
 
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED.  PLEASE HANDLE APPROPRIATELY. 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Albanian media have reported widely on the 
alleged police mistreatment of a suspected international drug 
trafficker and fugitive from US justice. A local human rights 
NGO and the Albanian prosecutor's office are investigating 
possible police misconduct. At the height of the media frenzy 
surrounding the case, Amnesty International (AI) released its 
2005 report highlighting violence and abuse by police and 
prison officials of a number of criminal detainees. END 
SUMMARY. 
 
2. (SBU) On May 19, 2006, Armando Andoni (DOB 09JUN1974, AKA 
Arjan Selimi, AKA Brian Foster Burke), a fugitive wanted by 
the US Marshalls Service was to be taken before an Albanian 
magistrate for fingerprinting in order to positively confirm 
his identity. Media reported that in an attempt to avoid 
fingerprinting, Andoni removed all of his clothing except his 
underpants under the mistaken belief that he would not be 
forced to go before a judge in such a state. When it became 
apparent that he was to be taken regardless of his partial 
nudity, Andoni violently resisted removal from his cell. 
Bleeding and dressed only in his underwear, Andoni was 
ultimately taken before a judge, but the judge declined to 
proceed with the fingerprinting. (NOTE: Born in Albania, 
Andoni and his family settled in the US in 1986. In 1998, 
Andoni was arrested in Michigan for the distribution of 
approximately 1000 kg of marijuana. Released on bail, he fled 
the US. Upon arrival in Albania he assumed the identity Arjan 
Selimi. END NOTE) 
 
3. (SBU) On May 22, the Albanian Human Rights Group (AHRG) 
released a public statement denouncing what it described as 
the excessive use of force against Andoni, an act which it 
characterized as a human rights violation. AHRG conducted its 
own investigation into the matter and concluded that Andoni's 
wounds could not have been self-inflicted, as had been 
suggested by the police. Elsa Ballauri, Executive Director of 
the AHRG, told us that her organization was concerned about 
the lack of professionalism in the Albanian police and 
particularly the excessive use of force when handling crime 
suspects. Ballauri said that a lawyer from the AHRG visited 
Andoni in his cell following the incident and concluded that 
the defendant had been severely beaten, including wounds to 
the back of his body. Following the release of the AHRG 
statement, the Tirana District Prosecutor's Office opened an 
investigation into the incident. 
 
4. (SBU) The 2005 AI report highlighted the fact that a 
number of detainees have reported that they were subjected to 
violence or abuse during arrest, in police custody, or in 
prison. Released on May 24, the report indicated that in only 
a few cases were the offending officers disciplined. 
 
5. (SBU) Even before the fingerprinting incident, the Andoni 
case had created a local media sensation when a video of 
Andoni and his girlfriend, Inis Gjoni (a semi-famous Albanian 
personality) was circulated widely here. The video, taken 
from Andoni's cell phone, shows the naked couple snorting a 
white powder substance (presumed to be cocaine). Andoni's 
defense lawyer has asserted that these images were 
inappropriately released to the public by investigators in a 
deliberate attempt to embarrass him. 
 
6. (SBU) COMMENT. The extensive media coverage of the alleged 
abuse, the championing of the issue by a local human rights 
NGO, and the launch of an investigation into police 
misconduct indicate, perhaps anecdotally, that Albania is 
increasingly able to monitor and combat human rights abuse on 
its own. Nevertheless, the AI report and Andoni's alleged 
mistreatment underscore the need for better training and 
 
professionalism within the criminal justice system.  Poor 
treatment of detainees weakens the GoA's credibility 
especially when it is doing the right thing in cracking down 
on organized crime and corruption. END COMMENT. 
RIES 

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