The murders that changed the history of Albania and lots more

The murders that changed the history of Albania and lots more
Today, Albanian Free Press publishes materials on some of the most notorious murders taken place in Albania. These materials are part of the most recent book published by publicist Roland Qafoku, a columnist of Albanian Free Press, called “100 of the most notorious murders in the history of the Albanian state 1912-2017”, a book which is published ahead of the 105th anniversary of the Independence of Albania. In today’s issue you will read: How was Azem Hajdari murdered”.


Everyone who will read this book is entitled to ask: why has he selected these 100 murders? Why has he included this murder or excluded that murder? My answer is simple: because this is my opinion. After making a list of around 300 murders, which in my opinion, were the most important ones, the most notorious ones and with the biggest impact on the political and social life, I made a second selection and then a third one. After discussing with many friends, colleagues, researchers and historians and after I applied several criteria on the list, I decided on these 100 murders.


Some murders did not just cause victims, but they have also brought changes in history. They have provoked important political developments in Albania. So, the murdering of the Italian general Enrico Tellini on 27 August 1923, who had projected the border line between Albania and Greece beyond the town of Yoannia, led to this border to be brought to Konispol. The murder of Robert Coleman and George De Long on 6 April 1924, angered the Americans and this led to several warships to remain in the Adriatic Sea for quite some time. The attempt on the life of Avni Rustemi on 20 April 1924 brought the so called June Revolution, which was in fact a clean coup d’etat. The murder of Daut Hoxha on 14 June 1940 in Konspol, provoked the Italian-Greek war. The murder of Artur Rustemi on 10 February 1997, led to the armed rebellion in Vlora. The murder of Azem Hajdari on 12 September 1998 led to an armed uprising which aimed at seizing power through violence and the resignation of Prime Minister Fatos Nano. All of these murders have changed history.


At the end of the day, it’s not romance, it’s politics. To be part of the state establishment in Albania has always been a dangerous thing. Father Zef Pllumi said: If you’re a politician in Albania, you have one foot in the grave and one foot in prison. From the minister of Finance in the government chaired by Esad Pashe Toptani to MP Azem Hajdari, there are 30 politicians who are part of these 100 murders. Among them there are politicians of all ranks, starting with prime ministers such as Esad Pashe Toptani, Ismail Qemali, Hasan Prishtina, Qazim Koculi, Idhomen Kosturi, Kostaq Kote and Mehmet Shehu. But the list also includes deputy prime ministers such as Preng Bibe Doda or ministers such as Mark Gjon Markaj, Lefter Kosova, Nako Spiru, etc. This list of murder politicians also includes MP such as Azem Hajdari, Fatmir Xhindi and politicians belonging to different ranks, starting with signatories of the Independence Act, such as

How and why was Azem Hajdari murdered

By Roland Qafoku

12 September 1998 marks a very important day as on this day, the MP and the first chairman of the Democratic Party, Azem Hajdari, was murdered. The man, who acted as symbol of the efforts to overthrow of the communist system while leading the December ’90 student movements, was murdered. It was 9.12 pm, when the sudden exit of Azem Hajdari from the DP’s seat, accompanied by his two bodyguards, put him in front of three armed men, Fatmir Haklaj, Jaho Salihi and Naim Çangu. The debate in question gave way to gun shots, which caused the death of Azem Hajdari, his bodyguard Besim Çerja and the injury of his other bodyguard Zenel Neza and Naim Çangu, who died in hospital.


Fatmir Haklaj admitted the murder. He said that he didn’t want to kill Azem Hajdari, but when he saw that he was carrying a pistol gun in the hand, he decided to shoot him. According to Haklaj, the fact that Çangu was killed shows that they were not there to kill Azem Hajdari. According to the Court, Fatmir Haklaj killed Hajdari because he suspected him to be involved in the murder of his brother, Shkelqim Haklaj on 5 January 1998. The confrontation between Fatmir Haklaj and Azem Hajdari had started in1997, when Azem Hajdari ran for parliament in the constituency of Tropoja in the 29 June 1997 elections. During the speech held by the acting president, Sali Berisha in Tropoja during that electoral campaign, a round was shot in the air. Berisha considered this as a challenge. After he was told that the person who shot in the air was Fatmir Haklaj, Berisha said “I want him dead or alive in Tirana”. The court’s ruling states that “Fatmir has accused Hajdari of being involved in the murder of his brother, Shkelqim”. 8 months after this incident occurred, Shkelqim Haklaj was executed. But, his brother, Fatmir, wanted revenge, convinced that the order for the murder came from Tirana. He decided that his brother’s body should not be buried without taking revenge. On 7 January, police officers Avdyl Matoshi, Gj. Kolbucaj and Naim Dizdari were killed in an ambush. Shkelqim was buried, but his revenge continued on 9 January 1997 when Fatmir Haklaj executed a police officer belonging to Hoxha family, in his office. This marked the start of the conflict between Fatmir Haklaj and Azem Hajdari.


Azem Hajdari’s killing shook the Albanian state to its foundations. Two days after the execution, there was an armed uprising to seize power. The same attempt was seen in January 1914 against the government led by Ismail Qemali, in 1914 against Prince Wied, in March 1922 against the government led by Xhaferr Ypi, in June 1924 against Prime Minister Shefqet Verlaci, in December 1924 against Prime Minister Fan Noli and in March 1997 against Aleksander Meksi’s government. Hajdari’s funeral on 14 September turned into an attempt of the armed crowds to seize power through violence. But, the intervention of foreign diplomats convinced the crowds to withdraw and the situation was normalized, but the stability in the country and the image of Albania was damaged. Perhaps, the country’s image was damaged more than during the turmoil of March 1997.

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