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Albania17 October 2003

Inquiry call after interior minister punches TV editor

20.10.2003 - Interior minister Luan Rama was dismissed on 17 October for hitting Gjeli Vision editor Ilir Babaramo.

Reporters Without Borders called for an investigation after the Albanian interior minister punched the editor-in-chief of a television station at a socialist party election victory celebration.

The minister, Luan Rama, attacked Ilir Babaramo at a restaurant in the capital Tirana on 14 October over criticism broadcast by the television Vision Plus. The minister’s bodyguards also maltreated the journalist, said the press freedom organisation, condemning the attack.

The minister denied hitting the journalist, in a letter sent 15 October to the general prosecutor Theodori Sollaku. The next day the Albanian association of electronic media spoke out against the assault and called for the minister’s resignation.

Referring to the assault as "highly symbolic", Reporters Without Borders said it was totally unacceptable for the country’s top law and order official to hit a journalist because of criticism. It appeared to pose a threat to all journalists who took issue with the government’s political line.

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