Orthodox priest in southern Albania assaulted by suspects dressed as cops

Victim the father of new president of ethnic Greek minority party; link with effort to stop demolition of chapel by Albanian state

An Orthodox priest in southern Albania, the father of the new leader of the ethnic Greek party “Omonia”, was beaten up on Monday by two men impersonating police officers, media reports state.

Fr. Christos Pappas, the priest of the Aghios Haralambos parish in the Sarande district of the neighboring country, was intercepted by the two balaclava-wearing suspects as he was about to enter his residence.

The assault is linked with the recent incidents in Himare, where Albanian state authorities tore down a small Orthodox chapel they claimed was illegally built.

The victim is the 77-year-old father of Leonidas Pappas, who leads the small political party.

The suspect fled the residence after neighbors heard a commotion. Pappas was transported to a local hospital.

“Father Pappas’ assault is part of a wave of intimidation by the (ethnic Greek) minority and all those who react to the effort by Tirana (the central government) to loot the property of (Greek) expatriates in the Hirama coastal zone. It’s obvious that the perpetrators wanted to send a message to the new president of Omonia, Leonidas Pappas, who is a ‘red flag’ for them,” a Greek diplomat with experience in Albania told protothema.gr on Thursday.