Urgent Interventions

Greece: severe beatings, injuries and/or killings of Albanian citizens at border areas

Case GRC 161003
Violation of personal integrity / Extrajudicial execution / Impunity

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Greece.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by Greek Helsinki Monitor, a member of the OMCT network, and the Albanian Rehabilitation Center for Torture and Trauma, of the severe beatings, injuries and/or killings of 17 Albanian citizens at border areas in Greece.

According to the information received, on Monday, September 15th, 2003, at about 5:00, Albanian citizens Ligor Halimi (age 41), Mili Halimi (43) and Rahman Pashollari (62), were severely abused by Greek policemen. The three Albanians had been working since September 5th, 2003 in Greece and were returning to Albania when they were stopped near the border by six Greek police patrol officers dressed in camouflage uniforms and black hoods. The officers searched them, took the money they were carrying, and reportedly began to punch, kick and hit them with wooden batons on all parts of their bodies.

Following this, the three men were taken to a detention facility in Pili (Florina), where their identity data weas recorded. No violence was reportedly used against them at the detention facility, where they were kept for approximately one hour. The policemen then took them to the Kapshtica (Kristalopigi) border crossing point. In Kapshtica, the three men allegedly received no assistance from the Albanian police, even though the gravity of their injuries was clear. They then travelled to their homes in Elbasan, where they sought medical attention at the local hospital. Of the three travellers, Ligor Halimi experienced the most severe injuries, while Mili Halimi and Rrahman Pashollari suffered only light bruises on their knees and arms. Ligor Halimi was hospitalized in Elbasan and was diagnosed with injuries to the abdomen and a ruptured spleen, accompanied by internal haemorrhaging. L. Halimi later underwent surgery to have his spleen removed.

Separately, on September 23rd an 18-year old Albanian, Vullnet Bytyçi, was shot in the back of the head and killed by members of the Greek police near the Kristalopigi checkpoint while he was attempting to escape arrest. Four other Albanian persons with whom he was travelling to Greece in order to find work, Alfred Ramadan Metaliaj, Emri Saetr Metaliaj, Beqir Osman Metaliaj and Bilbil Selman Metaliaj, were arrested and were later released and returned to Albania on September 27th, 2003. A sixth person, Luan Metaliaj, reportedly escaped arrest and hid for 24 hours before returning to Albania. A bullet reportedly went through his jacket without injuring him during his escape. The Greek police reported that one police border guard shot in the air to prevent their escape as well as their threatening attitude towards one of his fellow guards. There are reports that at the time of his shooting, Mr. Bytyçi had stopped running away and did not present any danger. The authorities have reported that the police border guard responsible for the shooting would be tried according to Greek law. He has been prosecuted for reckless homicide and the decision of the Misdemeanour Council is pending as to whether or not he will be referred to trial.

In another incident, three Albanians - Leonard Shëmbilko, Dashamir Brakolli and Sokol Hallko - were reportedly subjected to ill-treatment by Greek policemen on September 22nd. Mr. Shëmbilko and Mr. Brakolli reportedly regularly visit Greece for employment purposes and had valid documents, but were nevertheless arrested by the Greek police near Kastoria and were beaten with hard objects, before being taken to the Mesopotamia police station, where the beatings allegedly continued for several hours. Of the three, Mr Brakolli received the worst injuries, however he did not officially report the incident to the Greek authorities out of fear of reprisals.

In addition, 35-year-old Gani Ibrahim Rama from Kruja was reportedly shot at on September 25th by Greek soldiers, wounding him in the arm, as he was running to evade them having crossed the border illegally. He was arrested and detained for several days before being released and returned to Albania.

The whereabouts of 25-year-old Sokol Allkja, 31-year-old Ardian Allkja and Edmond Sula also have remained unknown, according to their relatives, since they left for Greece from Cerrik, Albania, allegedly on September 19th, although reports indicate that Sokol Allkja was wounded by the Greek police and is possibly in Korca hospital, while his brother Ardian is in prison. Nothing further is currently known about Edmond’s situation.

Arjan Torka, from the town of Gramsh, reported having been beaten and insulted by an official on the premises of the Greek customs at Kristalopigi between the 4th and 5th of October 2003. The police officer checking his passport claimed that it was forged and started punching and kicking him. After refusing to sign a form in Greek that he could not understand, he we was told to leave the Greek territory and to obtain a new passport and visa. The Korca police, who promised to investigate the case, reportedly stated that the passport was not forged whilst there reportedly was an undertaking on the part of the Greek authorities (Director of Police of Kozani) that measures will be taken so that similar incidents do not occur in the future.

The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned by these recent reports of violent beatings and shootings of several Albanian men who were crossing the border into Greece by Greek police officers; as well as the several previous cases of similar incidents that were not investigated leading to impunity of the perpetrators (see attached document). OMCT is particularly concerned by the extrajudicial execution of Mr. Vullnet Bytyçi and the disappearance of Mr. Edmond Sula. OMCT calls upon the Greek authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all persons crossing its border, and to order an immediate, impartial and effective investigation into the circumstances of these recent and past events, identify those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial tribunal, and apply the sanctions provided for by law. OMCT urges the authorities to guarantee that the victims are provided with adequate reparation, including medical assistance.

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Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Greece urging them to:

i. take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all Albanian persons crossing the Greek-Albanian border;
ii. immediately locate the whereabouts of Mr. Edmond Sula;
iii. order a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of these events, notably the allegations of beating, shootings and the extrajudicial execution, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
iv. guarantee that adequate reparation is granted to the victims and the family of the deceased;
v. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.


· Constantine Simitis, Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s Office at the Hellenic Parliament, Greek Parliament Blgd, Constitution Square, Athens / Greece, Fax: +30 210 724 17 76, Email:
· George Papandreou, Foreign Minister Athens, Fax: 30 210 36 81 433, Email:
· Filippos Petsalnikos, Minister of Justice, Athens, Greece, fax +30 2107489231
· Mr. Giorgos Floridis, Minister of Public Order, Athens, Greece, Fax: + 30 210 6917944
· George Kaminis, Ombudsman for Human Rights, Fax 30 210 7289643 President Alfred Moisiu, e-mail:
· Atrur Metani, legal adviser to the President, e-mail:,
· Ambassador Vladimir Thanati, Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva of the Republic of Albania, Fax: 0041 22 738 81 56, e-mail:

Please also write to the embassies of Greece in your respective country.

Geneva, October 16th, 2003

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.