ATHENS – Greece’s Alternate Foreign Minister George Katrougalos said Albanian authorities should swiftly return the body of Konstantinos Katsifas, the 35-year-old ethnic Greek man who was fatally shot by police.
Katsifas’ family had already asked for the body to be returned for burial and said they would seek legal action to try to force it oitherwise.
“We made clear our priorities from the start: shed a light on the case, all the way; to protect the rights of our Greek brothers (living in Albania); finally, and making no compromise on the first two points, protect our bilateral relations,” Katrougalos said in interview with the daily newspaper Ta Nea.
Katrougalos said it was a good sign, however that Albanian officials agreed to let a Greek police officer to be present at the inquest.
“We should be very careful on both sides of the border; this is self-evident at government level … extremism on one side feeds extremism and intolerance on the other,” the Radical Left SYRIZA minister said.
A Greek prosecutor said a probe would be opened into the circumstances of his death in southern Albania while his family said for now they just wanted the body back so he could be buried in Greece, where he had been living as well.
Albanian police said Katsifas started firing at them while he was trying to celebrate Greece’s entry into World War II against Italy, driving Italian forces back through Albania, where many Greek soldiers died and were buried.
Katsifas also had Albanian citizenship and police said he first started shooting in the air in the village of Bularat, 255 kilometers (160 miles) south of the capital, Tirana on Oct. 28, Oxi Day in Greece, which marks the date Greece refused to surrender to Italy.
Then the man fired at approaching police cars before running away, police said, hiding on a nearby mountain and firing away before he died in an exchange of bullets.