Constitutional Court: Confrontation between the parties in court unequal; Defendant accused of murdering Eva Visha in 1997; complete case file of one of the most sensational events of 1997 – Albanian justice reveals truth only after 7 years.
By: Sonila Mesareja –
After referring the case to the Constitutional Court for adjudication, based on the grounds that the confrontation in court has not been equal, on Wednesday, the Appellate Court sentenced again to 20 years of prison Albenc Ago, the 44-year old accused to having murdered the mother of Albanian singer, Elsa Lila. After reexamining the case, the adjudication panel headed by judge Agron Papajani, decided to uphold the same sentence given by their colleagues in the three levels of the Albanian judiciary, before the case got to the Constitutional Court, which is 20 years of prison for the murder of Eva Visha, a crime occurred back in the year 1997, in Krraba, 29 kilometers from Tirana.
On December 2005, the defendant was convicted in absentia to 20 years of prison, and was later on arrested in Italy, exactly on August 2006. He has been since then in ongoing judicial processes. Following the courts’ decisions, Abenc Ago had requested the Constitutional Court to abrogate the verdicts of the three lower instance courts, claiming these decisions derived from an irregular judicial process. He had presented a rationale, according to which the courts in question have supported their decisions only based on hypotheses or deductions, not on direct or indirect evidence that could really prove the claimant’s guilt.
As in all adjudications, one of the main problems in this case, was proving the charges. This process requiring a comprehensive analysis of all the circumstances that have been examined and verified during the trial. According to the defendant’s lawyer, the decision of the First Instance Court is completely unfounded. It only describes a story and quotes names of witnesses that have indicated no real source of evidence. This decision does not derive from the accurate examination and analysis of collected evidence, but rather on descriptions and prejudice.
After the examination, the Constitutional Court decided to accept in part the defense request. It found that the adjudication in Tirana Court has taken place with only one of the litigant parties present, i.e. the prosecution, while the defendant Albenc Ago was represented only by one defense lawyer. Then, in the appellate level, only the defendant Albenc Ago has been questioned. He was at the end sentenced in absentia by the adjudication panel headed by Judge Gjin Gjoni.
As per the decision, it results that the citizen Eva Visha (short, Lila) was found dead on May 23, 1997, in the 29th kilometer of Tirana-Elbasani road. It also results that she had been murdered by a firearm and was shot with a bullet in the head. The holes indicate that the bullet has passed through her head, entering from the front and exiting from the rear part of the head. A van driver was the person that found the victim. From that moment up to year 2004, there has been almost no activity in relation to this crime, and it was only in 2004 that the Prosecution initiated the investigative activity, and in 2005 brought in front of justice the defendant (Albenc Ago).
In the efforts to discover the truth about this crime, apart from the collected evidence, there have been witnesses called in court to give their testimonies, respectively R. and S. Visha, F. N., G. D., A. R. and Sh. Th. According to the court, the mechanism of the crime was as follows: The victim was employed as a waiter in bar “Juna” located in the corner of “Rinia” park. It seems she was employed there thanks to her parents’ acquaintance with the owners of the bar. She not only worked in Tirana, but also lived here, in an apartment near “Bardhyli” street. She lived there with her children, after she had separated from her husband.
During the 1997 period, due to that year’s disorder, most of the people stayed home, since there was no chance of activity or entertainment. Due to her friendship with the “Haxhi Tasim” school director (witness F.N.), the victim had started to take some aerobics courses, whenever she had some free time. On May 23, 1997, the victim went to the course and as soon as she put on the aerobics clothes, she was told a driver of an off-road vehicle was asking for her. The driver was the defendant Albenc Ago.
The defendant was the driver of the witness G.D. and a part time driver during the Socialist Party electoral campaign. When the defendant had entered the schoolyard and had picked up the victim, he was part of that time SP leader’s escort team, together with a police officer, A.B, a witness to this case, who knew the author of the crime. Another witness, the aerobics instructor, Sh.Th, has confirmed that day the defendant came at the school looking for Eva.
As per the G.D.’s testimony, the victim Eva Visha, was seen that day in a blue Mitsubishi vehicle heading towards Elbasani, and the person driving the car was the defendant Albenc Ago. From what other persons who knew the victim had referred, it also resulted that their relationship had become tense at the time. From that moment on, the victim, Eva Vishaj was never seen alive again.
On that same day, according to witness D.’s declarations in the court, the victim was missing at work in the bar where she used to work. The same witness had tried to find the victim at her apartment, but was unable to locate her. That night, together with his driver, he had visited all the police stations in Tirana, hoping to have any news about Eva. On the following day, the witness D. had read about a murdered young woman, who was found somewhere in Elbasani-Tirana street. He and another witness, A.R., went to the city morgue and identified the victim by the name of Eva Visha.
As he told the court, he had spoken at the time about the victim to another witness to this case, A.B., and the latter told him about the circumstances in which the defendant Albenc Ago picked up the victim at the school. This witness had tried to get in touch with Ago over the phone, and the latter had told him that “something” had happened. The witness recalled that the defendant was very tense on the phone and hang up unexpectedly, and that had been the end of their communication. Finally, the forensic report was issued, stating that the cause of her death was a gunshot wound to the scull.
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