The Panepirotic Federation of America has issued a statement strongly condemning the "senseless killing" of an ethnic Greek by Albanian police in a village near Albania's border with Greece on Sunday and has called for an "internationally supervised investigation" to determine how he died.
Albanian authorities claim that Konstantinos Katsifas was killed following a police chase after refusing to surrender and opening fire at them, prompting police to shoot back. Earlier Albanian police took down a Greek flag Katsifas had planted in a cemetery for Greek soldiers to mark the anniversary of Greece entering WWII against Italy.
“Knowing the hostility with which Albanian authorities have persecuted ethnic Greeks in the past, the official Albanian account is hard to believe and we call for a full and open international investigation of this senseless killing,” said Nicholas Gage, president of the Panepirotic Federation, representing Greeks in both northern Greece and southern Albania.
“It is obvious that Katsifas, despite the flash of anger that overtook him when police took down the Greek flag, did not intend to injure anyone because he fired at an empty police van, not at any officers,” Mr. Gage said. “And it is highly unlikely that he would have chosen to shoot it out with the massive forces pursuing him rather than surrender.”
Gage noted that ethnic Greeks have been falsely imprisoned, beaten and harassed by Albanian authorities for years and called on the Greek government, the European Union and the United States to pressure Albania to provide the ethnic Greek minority the basic rights and protection due them under international agreements Albania has signed but never enforced.