Albanian Journalists Protest Attack on Colleague, report by BalkanInsight

I was appalled when I learned about the beating of a well known journalist in Tirana by a well known businessman with ties to the current government. The incident was condemned by all major public and international institutions in the country. For more info I’ll just post the text of the article published by BalkanInsight.

A group of Albanian journalists and civil society activists protested on Wednesday in front of the office of Prime Minister Sali Berisha against the brutal assault of Tirana publisher Mero Baze by oil magnate Rezart Taci.

Following the symbolism of the Iraqi journalist that attacked U.S. President George W. Bush with a shoe, the protesters threw shoes at the office of the prime minister, while accusing him of being responsible for the violence against the journalist.

Baze was beaten late on Monday evening in Tirana, following a series of reports in the publisher’s media accusing the businessman of tax evasion.

According to witnesses present in the Capriccio Bar in the center of Tirana’s upscale Bllok neighborhood, Rezart Taci and his bodyguards attacked the journalist, kicking and beating him for roughly four minutes, leaving him unconscious.

Present during the assault were also two other journalists; political commentator Andi Bushati and the editor-in-chief of Vizion Plus TV Arban Hasani, who later testified on the assault on the journalist.

Baze recovered in Tirana’s military hospital on Monday evening and was released in the early hours of Tuesday. He had ran a series of critical reports on his TV Show, Faktor Plus, on Vizion Plus TV accusing Rezart Taci and his company, the ARMO oil refinery of massive tax evasion.

Apart from the TV show, Baze also publishes the Tirana daily Tema, a publication that is very critical of the government.

Rezart Taci is known as one of the Tirana businessman in Prime Minister Berisha’s inner circle. His other company, Taci Oil International has spent millions of euros organising charity football matches, with the proceeds donated to a children’s charity ran by Berisha’s wife.

The businessman through a statement for the media, admitted he had been present during the assault, but denied he had participated.  Police so far have arrested two of his bodyguards and issued a warrant for Taci’s detention, but have not yet arrested him.

On Tuesday a journalism organisation, offered a 10,000 euro reward for information, leading to Taci’s arrest.

Source: BalkanInsight

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