The confession of the minor thieves’ groups: here it is who pushes us to steal millions. Rozeta: “Tutors get the money, to send us to the orphanage”
A group of minors under the age of 14, who are identified as a contingent of thieves, for several years now, have extended their activities not only in Tirana, but also in the coastal city of Durrës. Due to their age, they manage to escape to the law without being punished, while, their tutors who push them toward the crime and collect the money, remain as the minors unpunished. While, the children escape to the punishment due to their age, a fact for which the tutors are well aware and manage to escape by knowing, that, the minors will not confess, cannot be punished by the law, and also their collaboration into the crime cannot be proven.
The children, who committed a theft reaching the amount of 10 thousand euro, show to all who pushed them into committing such acts. “Fatjoni, Selo and Shpëtim come from Berat, they are adults, they catch us, get the money and then release us. “Shpëtim lives near by the police station no.4” denounces one of the minors, while another says “When I lived near the train station at the huts, they kept us for money, pushed us to steal and took us home, lied to us and took the money”.
Then, Rozeta shares her experience too. She is older and usually is used to steal money. When asked on the thefts she has committed, she opens up on the way the small group operates “These are my brothers and my cousin; they distract the victim, while I go in. It has been quite a long time that we are stealing, it has also happened to have stolen the amount of 5 million lek. But the tutors take our money; today I have not stolen anything. We steal we spend the money, eat or spend them for toys or in the streets”. Whenever Rozeta has been arrested, she has indicated the accomplices, and has asked for being removed from the streets, a habit which may cost her highly in the future. “When they find me in the streets, they beat me and take all the money. Right now, I want to send us at the orphanage” claims Rozeta.
It was the testimony of these children, after being caught stealing an exchange office, on which was revealed the name of the first tutor, who was the only one to have received a conviction. “In regard to the adults who are a subject of the criminal offense, in most of the cases they collaborate with each other despite the fact that the collaborator is not liable. We encounter difficulties in the judiciary circles as an adult cannot cooperate with a person who has not reached the age for criminal liability. It is like having collaboration with an irresponsible person. If the collaborator, assistant, executor or the tutor it is not a subject, then there is no collaboration on the crime. This is known to the adults who exploit minors as they are excluded from criminal offenses” said the Head of the Criminal Attorneys, Sajmir Vishaj.
Unpunished remain the tutors of Saleo Stojani, Markeljan Cungu, of the Sopoti minors or others that have been arrested and released by the police because of their minor age. Only in the case of Besnik Koroni for the jewelry store theft in “Rruga e Durrësit” street, one of the persons who pushed them into crime, was identified, and sentenced to 10 months of imprisonment. But, how many other tutors have remained unpunished, while the number of store thefts in Tirana and Durrës has been high and the money stolen have not been returned to the owners.
The money stolen from Rozeta Sopoti and her brother and sister, has never been found. They have been identified in at least 20 cases of thefts in accomplice, mainly involved in store and pharmacies thefts, money thefts or robberies. The same has happened with the money or items stolen by Stojani or Cungu and other minors involved in the crime world. The Police have never managed to find out where the money went, due to the children’s age the case is never sent to the prosecution for investigation.
Attorneys contacted by investigim.al, argue that the only solution will be the Rehabilitation Institute or as the so called “School of Vagabonds” in the days of the dictatorship. According to them, the Probation Service should follow their progress step by step, by checking their rehabilitation, education and if their behavior is corrected. This would keep them off committing thefts and being exploited from adults, who are aware that minors are not liable to the law, so, use them to commit the criminal offense of theft. “This category of children from 12 to14 years old once used to be taken to the Rehabilitation School, currently, due to a vacuum in the criminal and procedural law cannot be punished. Reopening the Rehabilitation School under the supervision of the Probation Service, would be a success for the justice reform for this very vulnerable category from which the society is suffering today “said for Investigim.al attorney Vishaj.
Reopening the Rehabilitation School for minors is seen as a solution and is supported also by the state police structures. When, Ornela Cako the spokeswoman of Durrës Police, through a phone communication, was asked for the minors offences and in particular for Sopoti family she said ”During the summer these children have been caught committing apartments thefts, as well as other minors. The reeducation school for this category is missing; therefore they are released due to their age, and again are arrested for thefts”.
Attorney Vishaj further recommends on how to “save” the police and the society by this contingent that steal and is not punished due to the minor age. “There are certain categories of persons from 12-14 years old, who are not a subject of investigation, because they have not reached the age according to the law. In many theft cases, in which the 12 to14 years old are involved, they are advantaged over their age. They are not the subject of the criminal offense and here it is where is created a deadlock, as the western countries have lowered the age for criminal liability. This does not mean that Albania should follow this example based on the cases. We are a poor country, and the minors should not be punished with imprisonment. However, the cooperation with the Probation Service must be a priority for minors not being punished with imprisonment, especially during the initial investigations, it should be with a security measure or electronic surveillance” said Vishaj.
According to the lawyer Sajmir Visha effort should be put to re-educate these children rather than isolate them in prisons. “All court offices should be aware of the item 237 of Penal Procedure Code which has changed, and the Probation Service keeps minors under electronic surveillance as to not interrupt their educational process. It is better to be educated than be isolated in institutions for the execution of penal punishments, where an individual might learn to commit heavier and a high social risk penal acts” ends up the lawyer Vishaj. It is impossible for him to provide suggestions about what police should do to reach to the tutors who administer these children’s “profits” after each theft.
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