Second stage to eradicate organised crime under way; US ready to helpFeb 11, 2000
Tirana - Steps are being intensified in Albania to combat organised crime and the US has promised significant help to achieve this target, said the Minister of Public Order, Spartak Poci, in an interview carried by the independent daily "Gazeta Shqiptare" on Tuesday.
After his one - week visit to the US, the head of the Albanian police expressed his gratitude to the US politicians for their readiness to provide help to the Ministry of Public Order, especially for the criminal police, the special forces and the rapid deployment forces, which are the most important units of this institution, to combat organised crime in Albania.
He says that a detailed plan has been worked out to cleanse the blue uniforms of elements collaborating with crime, underlining that ten percent of incriminated police officers have been ousted from the police ranks over the last few months.
According to him, the combat against crime had entered a second stage, which he called the stage of eradicating organised crime, and this had been made possible because most of the criminal gangs operating throughout the Albanian territory have been eliminated, which was the goal of the first stage, which has finished.
Poci straightforwardly accused certain state and political elements and structures, including his own institution, of preventing police from carrying out an effective fight against organised crime, but he failed to provide names.
Nevertheless, the minister expressed his determination, and that of the institution he heads, to fight organised crime at all costs within space made available by the Albanian Constitution.
Following is Pocis interview:
- What is the assessment of your institutions work?
- We have already entered the second stage in the fight against crime, the fight against organised crime, because we have given blows to almost all the criminal gangs operating throughout Albanian territory up to now, and we have the situation under control. The national roads are under police control and the latter has reorganised its work and the following are its priorities:
Firstly, to hit organised crime and illegal trafficking, in particular, because Albania is a transit country for the latter.
Secondly, we have an important target: to collect the weapons spread during the 1997 turmoil These two goals were the highlight of my visit (to US) in order to get the necessary US help for our work. As a matter of fact, the US aid for the Albanian police has been extraordinary, and at the meetings we agreed on the assistance to be given to the Albanian police in all directions, especially in fields relating to organised crime.
Special assistance will be provided to the criminal police, the special forces and those of rapid deployment, which are the main units of the Ministry of Public Order used in the fight against organised crime.
- It is said corruption has penetrated the bodies headed by you. How much are your concerned by the spread of corruption in your ministry?
- This is completely true. It is well known that organised crime recruits certain structures, including institutions within the state administration, and the Ministry of Public Order, i.e. the Albanian police, have their part in this affair.
Given this situation, we have worked out a plan to cleanse the police ranks of corrupt elements, and this will be done in co-operation with our US and European colleagues. We have set up structures to deal with this work, and I can say that we have practically dismissed about ten percent of the corrupt staff at these structures. Certainly, this is the first step, and this process will continue because it is required to undertake a radical uprooting of corrupt elements from these police structures.
No efficient work can be done without the establishment of order.
- Do you have a free hand to fight crime and corruption directly or indirectly, or are you under pressure from politics?
- In my work, I have had the support of the international factor, as well as that of my government, but, of course, it is quite true that there are certain state structures and political elements, as well as Albanian political parties, that do not agree with me or, to be more precise, they try to prevent me and my institution from doing our work.
It is meaningful that this is a reflection of what I said above: that organised crime has recruited elements in Albanian politics and this is a fact well acknowledged by all the Albanian people. Certainly these elements or certain structures are recruited not to combat crime but to help them in their criminal activity. These elements constitute an obstacle for the police and the other state structures in an efficient fight against crime.
However, we are determined and will not halt our efforts to fight crime with the power of the law and the proper strength within the spaces created by the Constitution of the Albanian Republic in spite of the price to be paid.