Death toll of Albanian protest rises to four

Sat Feb 5, 2011 7:26pm GMT
 

TIRANA Feb 5 (Reuters) - An Albanian opposition protester shot in the head during an anti-government protest two weeks ago died in a hospital in Turkey on Saturday, bringing the death toll to four, an opposition lawmaker said.

After two weeks in a coma from a bullet in the forehead, Aleks Nika, 36, died before doctors could operate on him, Socialist Party lawmaker Gjovalin Kadeli told Reuters.

The political situation in Tirana remains fragile with the government on a possible collision course with the opposition as well as the president and the prosecutor general. Opposition rallies and marches on Friday were peaceful.

Barbed wire was removed from Prime Minister Sali Berisha's office on Saturday, two weeks after the fatal shootings that shocked the NATO member and EU applicant Balkan nation.

U.S. Ambassador Alexander Arvizu said he was concerned by the conflict between the institutions, according to a Voice of America transcript in Albanian of a Saturday interview.

However, Arvizu said Albania was not a failed state and saw it as a functioning democracy finding its way with time.

Washington has backed Albania's prosecutor in investigating the killings and the violence, offering also technical criminal experts, and Arvizu said he had made clear U.S. support for independent institutions to Berisha.

Albanian prosecutor Ina Rama is investigating the shooting deaths and violence by protesters and has issued six detention orders for the chiefs of the republican guardsmen, which police have not carried out.

The guard's commander, Ndrea Prendi, told a parallel parliamentary commission of the ruling Democratic Party that the guards only shot blanks and live rounds into the air. Television footage has shown two protesters fall dead outside the government building after shots rang out from the courtyard of the building. (Reporting by Benet Koleka, editing by Adam Tanner/Maria Golovnina)

 
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