HomePromisesUnkept'January 21st' was not declared a state crime, as Rama promised

‘January 21st’ was not declared a state crime, as Rama promised

The crimes of January 21, 2011, were neither declared as state responsibilities nor were they reinvestigated, as Prime Minister Rama had promised. Since 2017, the Strasbourg Court has expressed three times that Albania must fulfill the obligation to reopen investigations. As of today in Albania, there is a contested 2013 decision that found two Guard officials guilty of manslaughter due to negligence in the cases of Ziver Veizi and Faik Myrtaj, while the murders of Hekuran Deda and Aleks Nika remain unsolved and without an identified perpetrator. According to lawyer Dorian Matlija, the hope for advancing delayed justice lies with international justice institutions and the persistence of the families of the four victims of January 21st.

Anila Hoxha  

On January 21, 2017, Prime Minister Rama declared in front of the families of Ziver Veizi, Faik Myrtaj, Hekuran Deda, and Aleks Nika, all victims of the protest held in front of the Prime Minister’s Office on January 21, 2011, a protest called by the socialists who were in opposition at the time: ‘Today, it is important for us to acknowledge the responsibility for the state crime of January 21st. We are determined to acknowledge it legally, even in Strasbourg, to facilitate the reopening of the case.

Message to Berisha January 21, Rama: The case will be reopened, Justice is near, six years after the bloody protest, Prime Minister: We will acknowledge ‘January 21st’ as a state crime in Strasbourg

Screenshot, Headline of Shqiptarja.com January 2017

‘We will open the investigations of January 21st’ – the controversial agreement of the government

The need for the missing justice of the events of January 21, 2011, reached the doors of the Strasbourg Court 6 years after the tragic events, when the families of Ziver Veizi and Hekuran Deda, disappointed by the process in Albania, sued the Albanian state in the ECHR.

In the Strasbourg process, the government, represented by the State Advocate, offered a settlement to the families of the victims, including financial compensation and a promise to reopen the investigations. These two commitments, turned into obligations for Albania, were clearly stated by the Strasbourg Court: ‘The government undertakes to reopen domestic criminal proceedings in this case to involve the relatives of the victim in these proceedings. The government is prepared to pay fair compensation to: Ana Veizi, EUR 39,000 (thirty-nine thousand EUR); Klajdi Veizi, EUR 39,000; Zabit Deda, EUR 15,600; Çaush Veizi, EUR 15,600’ as stated in the decision.




However, if the government fulfills the financial obligation of the agreement declared in the Strasbourg process in 2017, it has not succeeded in reopening the investigations of the case. However, once again, the government played the same ‘card’ with the families of other January 21st victims in another confrontation in Strasbourg in 2019.

‘The second point, the reopening of the investigation, was never done. The State Advocate, which took on the obligation, did not act.

On March 5, 2019, the same agreement text was reached with the families of Faik Myrtaj, as well as with several other families of Hekuran Deda and Ziver Veizi.

This agreement also included the obligation to reopen the case, but it was never fulfilled, ‘Matlija confirms. Insisting that the agreement of the Albanian government with the Strasbourg Court remains an unfulfilled obligation, the lawyer points to its latest decision in November 2023 following the lawsuit filed by the family of Aleks Nika.

‘In the case of Nika v. Albania, on November 14, 2023, it was determined that there were violations, both substantively (that the state failed to protect life and that the killing was state-related) and procedurally, as the investigation never concluded and no one was prosecuted for the murder of Aleks Nika,’ the lawyer adds.

Contested decisions regarding ‘January 21st’

The only individuals convicted for the murders of January 21st are former head of the Republican Guard Ndrea Prendi and another official, Agim Llupo.

On February 7, 2013, Tirana Court convicted them on 3 charges: 1- ‘Intentional homicide committed in a manner dangerous to the lives of many people’ resulting in the death of Faik Myrtaj and the injury of several other citizens.

2- ‘Intentional homicide committed under other aggravating circumstances, against two or more persons,’ resulting in the deaths of Hekuran Deda and Ziver Veizaj, and the injury of Fatos Mahmutaj, Erald Bisha, and Sokrat Gode.

3- ‘Actions obstructing the discovery of the truth.’ However, Tirana Prosecutor’s Office appealed the decision, and in September 2013, the Appeals Court reduced the charges against the two Guard officials, convicting them of manslaughter due to negligence.

In conclusion, the Former Commander of the Guard was sentenced to 1 year in prison for the murder of Faik Myrtaj, while Agim Llupo was sentenced to 3 years in prison for the murder of Ziver Veizi. The murders of Aleks Nikës and Hekuran Dedës remain unsolved to this day, with no author brought to justice. The lack of evidence resulted in the perpetrator of the killings of these two individuals and the injury of 6 others remaining unidentified, according to the Court of Appeal’s decision in 2013.


‘The prosecution has alleged that there is evidence showing that the defendant Agim Llupo shot the deceased Hekuran Deda and several other individuals who were injured, although no bullets causing the death of Hekuran Deda or the injuries to citizens Fatos Mahmutaj, Erald Bisha, Sokrat Gode, Artes Dybeli, Ilia Qesko, Ilia Papa, and Aleks (Aleksandër) Nika, who later passed away, have been recovered. The finding of these bullets would facilitate conducting forensic analysis to ascertain the firearm used in the shooting, thus establishing a direct causal link beyond any reasonable doubt.’ – states the Court of Appeal, adding suspicions that many events had occurred not only on the boulevard and beyond, following a dramatic demonstration.

According to confidential sources within the Prosecutor’s Office of Tirana, it has been reported that assistance from foreign experts has been requested to identify a bullet found in the body of 36-year-old Aleks Nika during a specialized intervention in Turkey after he was shot on January 21, 2011, an intervention that ultimately failed to save him.

Yet, in the official response from the Prosecutor’s Office of Tirana, such details are not disclosed due to the investigative secrecy, but the reopening of the investigations into Nika’s murder is affirmed. ‘On April 2, 2021, the decision was made to resume the suspended investigations and conduct investigative procedures aiming to identify the perpetrator of the murder of Aleks Nika and Hekuran Deda. The Tirana District Court, in its decision no. 100 dated February 7, 2013, found the defendant A. Ll. not guilty of the criminal charge of ‘Intentional homicide, committed against two or more persons,’ resulting in the direct death of the deceased Hekuran Deda,’ – states Tirana Prosecutor’s Office.

Resumption of ‘January 21st’ investigations at 0 

13 years the tragedy of January 21st and the results for resolving the case are disappointing. Two of the murders, those of Hekuran Deda and Aleks Nika, remain unresolved, while challenges persist from the families of the 4 victims of the tragic event. On anniversaries of the incident, the government has pledged to reopen the case, despite it being a matter for the judiciary rather than the executive.

‘We’re not seeking justice from the government; we’re seeking justice from the judiciary! They come and lay flowers, perhaps sensing our sorrow, not like us, but they come. ‘But if you look deeper, from what I’ve seen, justice has been dragging its feet’ – says Mark Nika, the uncle of Aleks Nika, to Faktoje.

The relatives of the January 21st victims filed a complaint with SPAK last year, requesting an investigation into Sali Berisha and Lulzim Basha, respectively Prime Minister and Minister of Interior at the time of the incident. The families also request a re-investigation of the Former Guard commander Ndrea Prendi and Former Guardsman Agim Llupo. SPAK handed over the case to Tirana Prosecutor’s Office, stating that it’s within their jurisdiction. However, the families of the January 21st victims refuse, arguing that Tirana Prosecutor’s Office is compromised regarding this matter. Hence, they have appealed to the Supreme Court hoping that it will rule in their favor and the case will be investigated by SPAK.

‘In my opinion, Tirana Prosecutor’s Office has conducted biased investigations, has been subject to political influence, prosecutors, and judges. This is evidenced by the fact that we filed an appeal, and from August 2023 until now, it has been dragging on, despite consulting with legal experts who have assured us that our case is legitimate. If the Supreme Court does not accept it, if the opposite happens, we will demand the establishment of a special unit within the General Prosecutor’s Office, as Tirana is delaying the process. Not because it’s incompetent, but it seems there are obstacles,’ – argues Mark Nika.

Ida Vodica, Head of Public Relations, explains to Faktoje that the Supreme Court has scheduled the review of the appeal in the advisory chamber for February 27th.


The government’s commitment to reopening the investigations into the January 21, 2011 murders outside the Prime Minister’s Office may have served propaganda, but it has not served justice, not only for the families of the victims and the wounded, but also for the public, who expect the justice system to fulfill its duty. Therefore, we will classify this government promise as unfulfilled.

The lawyer representing the families of the January 21 victims, Dorian Matlija, emphasizes that any possibility of action by the Albanian justice system hinges solely on pressure from international justice institutions.

‘If decisions are not enforced, the families should inform the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which oversees the implementation of such decisions. For the first two cases, if the agreement is not implemented, there is a possibility for them to reapply to the Strasbourg Court to obtain a similar decision as in the Nika case against Albania’, Matlija states.



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