An estimated 3,000 mourners of the ethnic Greek minority of Albania and from Greece attended today’s funeral of 35-year-old Konstantinos Katsifas, who was shot dead by Albanian special forces on the October 28 Greek national holiday in the ethnic Greek village of Vouliarates, in southern Albania.
Residents of Vouliarates claimed that Katsifas, who had dual Greek and Albanian citizenship, was intentionally executed by Albanian Special forces brought into the village from Tirana, after he brandished a Kalashnikov with which he shot in the air, during the national holiday celebration.
PM Alexis Tsipras in an interview with Alpha television tonight refused to discuss the case, but said his government will be discussing the violations of the rights of the ethnic Greek minority of southern Albania, under international law, in ongoing talks with Tirana.
In an unprecedented move, Albanian prosecutors posthumously filed charges of attempted murder of uniformed police, and illegal weapons possession and use.
Katsifas was shot dead on a bare mountain, surrounded by hooded Albanian Special Forces who were brought in from Tirana, accompanied by a police helicopter.
Dozens of buses from various parts of Greece crossed the Albanian border, and a number of people following extremely meticulous border checks were barred from entering the country on the grounds that they were personae non gratae.
Four Greeks who were representatives of Greek minority organisations were hauled into the nearby Gjirokaster police precinct on the grounds that they had flags and shirts referring to Northern Epirus, which is what Greeks call the ethnic Greek minority populated area of southern Albania, and were to be allowed to return to Greece.
Katsifas’ body, which had inexplicably been held for ten days in a Tirana morgue by Albanian authorities, was received by his father Yannis in Tirana at 1am on 7 November, and was later taken to the family home in Vouliarates, where they held a vigil.
Dressed in military uniform and hat of the Greek Army commando in which he had served, and with the open coffin draped in the Greek flag, Katsifas was accompanied to his last resting place by the crowd of mourners, with hundreds carrying small Greek flags and a number of people carrying an enormous Greek flag that Katsifas had made for the rallies in Greece against the Athens-Skopje Prespa Agreement.
The loud chants of the crowd of mourners “Katsifas you live, it is you who guides us” and “Immortal!” were heard continuously in the cortege from the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Athanasios to the village graveyard in Vouliarates. Several sang traditional funeral dirges of the Greek villages of Albania