H.E. Sali Berisha
Prime Minister of Albania
Blvd Zog I, Tirana, Albania
Mr. Grid Rroji
Director of the Communications Office for the Prime Minister
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, a group of editors and media trainers in nine countries in the Balkans and publisher of Balkan Insight (www.balkaninsight.com) is alarmed and deeply concerned over the assault on our Albania editor, Besar Likmeta.
Likmeta was brutally attacked by MP Tom Doshi during an interview at the Sheraton hotel in Tirana in the evening of March 10 in front of another MP, Arben Isaraj, from the Socialist Party.
During research for an investigation about fake diplomas in Albania – published on February 20 (http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/main/investigations/8041/)- Balkan Insight obtained documents showing that one deputy, Tom Doshi, had a certified degree from Tetovo University despite the fact that he never finished his studies in law.
The Balkan Insight investigation did not contain the name of Mr. Doshi. However, as his Tetovo degree mysteriously disappeared from his CV on the web site of the Albanian parliament, Mr. Likmeta requested an interview with Mr. Doshi`s to give him the opportunity to clarify the matter.
Likmeta called the MP, Tom Doshi, on Monday, March 10th, around 9.30 and explained that in the documents Balkan Insight has obtained from the Ministry of Education, he is identified as having certified a law diploma from Tetovo University. The university has informed the Albanian Ministry of Education that Doshi’s law degree is a fake.
Doshi agreed to meet for an interview at 10.30 pm at the Sheraton Hotel in Tirana where he came with Arben Isaraj.
Through out the interview Doshi demanded to know why Likmeta was covering this story and denied he had presented any fake documents. He repeatedly told Likmeta that it was extremely brave of him to pursue this story. Isaraj than asked Likmeta if he really lived in this country and was he out of touch with reality.
“Then abruptly Doshi started hitting me with some sort of leather file holder that he had with him. He broke my glasses and gave me a black eye before leaving,” Likmeta said.
At the time of the attack in the Sheraton hotel bar, there were several witnesses: two foreigners working on laptops, MP Isaraj and the barman. No one offered help.
After Likmeta tried to get witnesses to give statement on the attack, the barman ordered him to leave, or he would be kicked out.
BIRN is deeply concerned about this attack. We urge you to do everything in your power to investigate this case and to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future. It is important to note that the journalist who was so badly mistreated was simple trying to give a member of parliament a chance to tell his side of the story. Media workers must be able to work freely.
We thank you for your attention.
BIRN Regional Director