On March 15 2008, in a village in the vicinity of Tirana and quite close to Rinas international airport, an explosion happened inside a plant which was used for the dismantling of military ammunitions. The tragedy claimed the lives of 26 people and injured 260 others.
Among the dead there were also children who were playing in front of their houses. Meanwhile, the victims of the tragedy of Gerdec also included former Prime Minister Sali Berisha’s brother in law, Muhamet Hoxha, who worked as supervisor in this plant.
The tragedy of Gerdec unveiled a big corruption scandal, which included the process of setting up a plant which did not meet any safety standards, but also lying to the US government for it.
After the publication of a long article by New York Times, an investigation was launched by US authorities into the activity of two contractors from Florida, Efraim Diveroli and David Pokuz, who supplied the US government with Chinese ammunition (which the law forbids) repackaged as Albanian products.
The intermediary in all this was Shkelzen Berisha, son of former PM Sali Berisha, who managed to approve a government decision which authorized the setting up of such plant in violation of every safety procedure.
The blast in Gerdec also led to the opening of a big investigation by Albanian prosecutor’s office in 2008, but the then government led by Sali Berisha exerted political pressure to tamper evidence and threaten prosecutors.
The prosecutors who were involved in the investigation were removed or resigned after facing strong political pressure.
Former Defence minister during that time, Fatmir Mediu, currently leader of opposition, managed to get away with it through his diplomatic immunity.
Everyone who was arrested at that time is free today, while families of the victims are still looking for justice.
Today, TemA has published videos from the plant of Gerdec, which show terrible images of children and women working in violation of every technical standard.
Families of the victims are waiting for a new justice system to reopen investigations over the tragedy of Gerdec.