Letter: Albanian abuses

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The Independent Online
Sir: Tony Barber's timely article on human rights abuses in Albania (report, 28 March) rightly mentions the imprisonment of Koha Jone journalist Martin Leka and army officer Romeo Licaj on ridiculous charges.

But it omits an even greater abuse: the ongoing trial of opposition leader Fatos Nano, who has been held in a Tirana prison cell since last July. Mr Nano's treatment has been condemned by the European Parliament. Until February, there were no charges against him. Those he now faces - misappropriating Italian humanitarian aid and falsifying state documents - are tenuous but few doubt that he will be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison.

Two years after the victory of the Democracy Party, Albania has still not emerged from the shadow of its past. Demonstrations by Mr Nano's supporters in the Socialist Party have been outlawed since last year. Television is state-controlled, the press is subject to a draconian law and the judiciary is largely government-appointed.

A desire to see Albania keep the lid on a potential crisis in Kosovo should not blind us to the fact that the country's hard-won freedoms are in danger.

Yours sincerely,