Albania to Start Searching for Remains of Communist Camp Victims


State body in charge of Communist-era secret police files said it has started a search for the graves and remains of some 44 Albanians who perished in the infamous labour camp of Spac.

Albania’s Authority on Access to Information of the Sigurimi Files, the Communist-era political police, on Friday said it is preparing the way for an “administrative” investigation to find out what happened to some 44 people who were executed or died while imprisoned in the infamous labour camp at Spac.

This is the first such initiative by the authority and the first case when a state body has engaged in the discovery of the fate of some of many thousands who perished during Communist rule in Albania from 1945 to 1992.

“Research on the files preserved at the authority and other state institutions, such as the General Prison Directorate, Ministry of the Interior and State Archives, indicates that at least 44 prisoners were executed, died while attempting escape, perished in labour place incidents, or died due to the cruel conditions,” the authority’s press release noted.

“The initial data collected by a task force dealing with the matter suggests that those who perished while imprisoned were buried in unmarked graves outside the prison perimeter, thus denying the families [a chance] to retrieve their bodies,” the authority added. Several places are suspected of being burial grounds for the victims.

Albania’s parliament made some legal changes lately to engage the authority in the matter of search, recovery and identification of those who perished during Communism. The authority stressed that their investigation is an “administrative one”, meaning that no prosecutors will be present.

However, it noted that Albania’s Council of Ministers has yet to issue a decision that should detail the procedure for the preservation of places of suspected secret burials.

Albanians spent about 45 years under a harsh Communist regime from 1946 until 1991. The regime used prisoners as cheap labour and detained thousands of family members of “enemies of the state”, including women and children, in a network of labour camps.

Camp survivors said afterwards that they saw prisoners dying in these detention facilities, and how most of their bodies were buried in unmarked graves.

Albania has granted an effective amnesty to the perpetrators of the crimes committed by Communist-era officials and prosecutors have refused to investigate possible crimes of this category.

Spac, a copper mine in northern Albania, was one of the places where thousands of prisoners were put to work in extracting minerals. Those who attempted escape were usually shot.

Albania has not investigated any crimes committed by state officials during the Communist era. The general perception at state institutions is still that executions were carried out based on the laws that were in force at the time – in other words, that no crime was ever committed.

Source : Balkaninsight