Police arrest two Rinas border police officers, part of human trafficking ring

Police arrest two Rinas border police officers, part of human trafficking ring

TIRANA, Sept. 30 – Two border police officers at the Mother Teresa Airport were arrested on Saturday, while authorities also issued arrest warrants for five Macedonian citizens and another Albanian employee of an airport security company during the operation against a group

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Forensic expertise unveils signs of violence on Xhisiela Maloku’s body

Forensic expertise unveils signs of violence on Xhisiela Maloku’s body

TIRANA, Sept. 29 – The forensic expertise of Xhisiela Maloku, the girl who had denounced the violence towards her of Rexhep Rraja, son of Socialist MP Rrahman Rrahja, has found that she had indeed been burnt and kicked with strong

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Former police officer says Socialist government MPs held him at gunpoint

Former police officer says Socialist government MPs held him at gunpoint

TIRANA, Sept. 27 – Albania’s opposition Democratic Party published on Wednesday a video-testimony of former police officer in the Fushe-Kruje Police Department Emiljano Nuhu saying he was held at gunpoint by Socialist MPs Taulant Balla and Rrahman Rraja and Kruja’s Mayor

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Albania offers baby bonus hikes to fight sharp decline in birth rates

Albania offers baby bonus hikes to fight sharp decline in birth rates

TIRANA, Sept. 27 – With birth rates having hit a historic low and the population rapidly growing older due to drastic changes in lifestyle and massive migration following the collapse of the hardline communist regime in the early 1990s, the

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Shullazi case stirs Serious Crimes Prosecution, while hearing is postponed

Shullazi case stirs Serious Crimes Prosecution, while hearing is postponed

TIRANA, Sept. 26 – The hearing scheduled to seek the imprisonment for Emiljano Shullazi and his cooperators was postponed on Wednesday after one of the defendants and his lawyer did not appear due to health issues, as stated during the

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Albania tops Europe’s list of first-time asylum seekers

Albania tops Europe’s list of first-time asylum seekers

TIRANA, Sept. 25 – Over the last twelve months, Albanians have, for the first time, marked the highest number of asylum seekers in report with the population, leaving behind even those who are fleeing from war in their home countries.

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Albania seeks a place at the UN Security Council

Albania seeks a place at the UN Security Council

TIRANA, Sept. 25 – Albania’s Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati announced on Tuesday the country aims for a non-permanent position at the United Nations’ Security Council. Bushati said this in the context of his New York visit that opened the UN’s

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Police detain 50 refugees in Korca, women and children reported among them

Police detain 50 refugees in Korca, women and children reported among them

TIRANA, Sept. 24 – Albanian police detained 50 illegal refugees at the Kapshtica border point, connecting the country with neighboring Greece. According to police sources, the refugees, who were Syrians, Palestinians and Iranians were found in the city of Bilisht

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Police arrest 11 during action against Northern ‘Bajri’ criminal group

Police arrest 11 during action against Northern ‘Bajri’ criminal group

TIRANA, Sept. 24 – Albanian police and the Serious Crimes Prosecution announced on Monday the attack on one of the country’s most dangerous criminal groups – the ‘Bajri’ group, which operated mainly in the North of the country but had

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Habilaj assets of several million euros seized by Serious Crimes Prosecution

Habilaj assets of several million euros seized by Serious Crimes Prosecution

TIRANA, Sept. 22 – The Serious Crimes Prosecution announced on Friday the court has accepted its request to seize 29 assets of various kinds from the so-called ‘Habilaj Group’, Albanian brothers from Vlora accused of being involved in narcotics trafficking

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 30 - Two border police officers at the Mother Teresa Airport were arrested on Saturday, while authorities also issued arrest warrants for five Macedonian citizens and another Albanian employee of an airport security company during the operation against a group that was dealing with illegal trafficking of persons to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The action that took place over Friday night and the early hours of Saturday morning is the second part of an operation that started in March of this year, leading to the arrest of 39 people.

The operation was conducted in cooperation among the State Police, Serious Crimes Prosecution and US partners, who said 12 Albanian and international citizens are now wanted.

“Meanwhile, following the investigation, it been made possible to identify and then arrest, on September 28, 2018 as associates in this structured criminal group, two police officers with border control duties and a security agent,” the police statement clarified.

Investigations into this case have shown that seven structured criminal groups operating in Albania, Bulgaria, Spain, France, the Dominican Republic, Italy, the United Kingdom, the US, Canada have enabled the smuggling of over 300 Albanian citizens towards countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

“For each person, 7,000 pounds were paid for the United Kingdom and 25,000 to 30,000 dollars for the US and Canada. Members of these criminal groups through active actions assisted Albanian citizens interested in illegally immigrating to the above-mentioned countries by falsifying travel documents and IDs of EU countries,” the statement concluded.
                    [post_title] => Police arrest two Rinas border police officers, part of human trafficking ring 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 29 - The forensic expertise of Xhisiela Maloku, the girl who had denounced the violence towards her of Rexhep Rraja, son of Socialist MP Rrahman Rrahja, has found that she had indeed been burnt and kicked with strong objects.

What local media reported after obtaining the medical documents was that Maloku was subjected to the expertise the same day she pressed charges against ex-boyfriend Rexhep in July, but the results were passed on the prosecution only on Thursday, after former police officer Emiljano Nuhu denounced the crime through the opposition’s Democratic Party.

The prosecution, which had started investigating the case, called on Friday the girl’s relatives, who had denounced Rexhep several times but had later withdrawn out of fear, as she claimed in the testimony made to the police in July.

Meanwhile, the Internal Affairs and Complaints Service (IACS) in the Interior Ministry has initiated an investigation into police actions in dealing with Maloku's case, as well as Nuhu’s statement that he was threatened at the police station's premises not to arrest the son of the Socialist MP by Rrahman, SP MP Taulant Balla and the Fushe Kruje Mayor Artur Bushi. 

On Friday evening, Deputy General Director of Police Aida Hajnaj said that after the Maloku’s denunciation at the Tirana police station 3, on the afternoon of July 21, the case was passed on  to the police station of Fushë Kruja the same day, where she was summoned by Judicial police officer Gentian Çitozi, who "did not act in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code for the reception of a citizen" and consequently "officer Çitozi was suspended by his superiors, in this case by the Chief of the police station and was referred to in the prosecution by the IACS.”

“On Monday, July 27, the Maloku case was referred to the prosecution. At this point, the case passed under the jurisdiction of the Prosecutor’s Office and the prosecution, now having the case under its jurisdiction, decided to pass on the proceeding that would carry out further actions to police office Emiljano Nuhu,” Hajnaj further said.

According to Hajnaj, in pursuing the prosecution’s orders, Nuhu had only applied four out of the 11 duties assigned to him and the interrogation of Rexhep, as he claimed, was not one of them.

“Despite her request to withdraw charges, the head of the Kruja Police Commissariat, assessing the importance of this denouncement and assessing the facts and other circumstances related to them, did not allow the interruption of the investigation. The state police has conducted all investigative actions and the case is under investigation by the prosecution,” Hajnaj concluded.

Earlier on Friday, the Head of the IACS Anila Trimi, speaking on the verifications made after Nuhu’s allegations, said that Rrahman, Balla and Bushi, accused of holding Nuhu at gunpoint for investigating Rexhep, were never at the Fushe-Kruje police station.

“The IACS is reviewing all other circumstances, allegations, as well as the legality of all acts or omissions of this former police officer, of persons related to him and the acts or omissions of his superiors,” Trimi said in her statement.

Meanwhile, in Tirana, during the weekend, human rights organizations reacted forcefully to the violence against Maloku. They voiced concern over the delay in the proceedings in her defense and over the non-arrest of the perpetrator because he is the son of a SP MP. 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 27 - Albania’s opposition Democratic Party published on Wednesday a video-testimony of former police officer in the Fushe-Kruje Police Department Emiljano Nuhu saying he was held at gunpoint by Socialist MPs Taulant Balla and Rrahman Rraja and Kruja’s Mayor Artur Bushi.

In the video published by opposition leader Lulzim Basha for the media, Nuhu, in an interview with the journalist Basir Collaku, said that he was threatened by Rraja and his brother, in Balla’s and Bushi’s presence.

Further on, Nuhu alleged he was threatened to stop investigations on rape accusations against Rraja’s son, Rexhep.

“An unprotected girl was violated, raped, kidnapped and tortured systematically. It is a monstrous crime that deserves the most severe punishment. Above all, this is a state crime, so justice must come not only to inhumane sadist Rexhep Rraja, but also to those who gave state protection to the criminal: Rrahman Rraja, Artur Bushi and Taulant Balla, a bandit politician immersed in the world of crime,” Basha said.

According to Nuhu, different police stations in Fushe-Kruje had refused to take the girl’s charges out of fear of political persecution and that Rexhep, being interrogated by Nuhu, had called his father and within 30 minutes he’d arrived, accompanied by Balla and Bushi. 

So far, Rrahja and Balla have completely denied any accusation against them.

Rrahja told local media that he has never met Nuhu and that the accusations against him are made up. 

"My son had issues with a girl two years ago, they broke up and he dated another. The break up has been clarified in the police department. In fact, she made a statement two days after (then) Prime Minister Berisha made his Facebook post, saying that Rrahman Rraja's family is the most respected family in the Kruja district and that with these posts they want to reduce the dignity and integrity of this family,” Rrahja said.

Balla, on the other hand, said he has been in possession of Nuhu’s letter for two weeks now and called the confession a fake, calling it the second ‘Babale’ case. 

“Today I want you to denounce in front of you the shameful involvement of the DP in defamation and bombardment of the highest Socialist Party representatives. This mud accompanied by shameful acts that constitute a criminal offense, as in the case of Babale. Everything is being cooked inside the DP building,” Balla said.

In line with the two, Bushi has denied knowing Nuhu altogether and said he was not at that particular police station the date Nuhu claims and that security cameras can prove that.

“I don’t know the officer in question. I don’t know his name and I've never met. At the same time, it is not even the case that I have been in that police station, either alone, or with what the officer or former officer now claims.

On Thursday, Balla, who is also the head of the Socialist parliamentary group, filed criminal charges in the prosecution against Basha, accusing him of abuse of office and false denunciation, following Nuhu’s testimony. 

The girl in question, Xhisiela Maloku, also gave an interview with Albanian media, where she was in line with Rraja’s side of the story and said Nuhu’s testimony is “90 percent a lie.”

Meanwhile, Tirana Prosecution has begun investigation on Nuhu’s testimony. 

The prosecution has filed the sound and film material of Nuhu’s testimony, while the object of the investigation is to verify the circumstances of the testimony.

The Prosecution is also conducting preliminary actions to assess whether there are elements of a criminal offense. The investigation team is expected to observe the entry and exit register of the Kruja Police Department.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 27 – With birth rates having hit a historic low and the population rapidly growing older due to drastic changes in lifestyle and massive migration following the collapse of the hardline communist regime in the early 1990s, the Albanian government has unveiled a social reform encouraging Albanian parents to have more children through a sharp hike in baby bonuses.

Prime Minister Edi Rama says parents will receive up to 120,000 lek (€945) in cash bonuses for their newborns starting next year in hikes of up to 24-fold as part of incentives promoting higher birth rates and increasing child support.

Albanian parents currently receive only a modest 5,000 lek (€40) in one-off bonuses for their newborns, an amount that has remained unchanged since the early 2000s when it was introduced by Edi Rama, then serving in his first term as Tirana Mayor before it expanded nationwide in 2008 as a welcome cash gift.

However, getting the modest cash gift often takes Albanian parents up two years due to late and complicated disbursement of funds.

The newly proposed cash bonuses, which the government is planning to disburse in instalments until children become one year old, are set to increase 8-fold to 40,000 lek (€315) for the first child, double to 80,000 lek (€630) for the second child and treble to 120,000 lek (€945) for the third or more children.

"That is a measure which in our calculations will promote higher birth rates, but the most important thing is that it is an incentive for everybody with no difference for all families having children in Albania," Prime Minister Edi Rama said.

"That is a nationwide bonus that will be awarded in real time in the course of one year to families under a new mechanism that is going to be set up. The next challenge will be extending the reward in more than one year, but that is another topic," Rama added.

The incentive comes as birth rates in the country have seen a drastic cut in the past 28 years and the country’s resident population has been declining and getting older, posing a threat to the country’s emerging economy and public finances.

Albania’s natural population growth registered negative growth in the first quarter of this year as the number of deaths slightly exceeded births in a dramatic but warned situation that takes place for the first time in nine decades since Albania established a civil registry in the late 1920s, according to official figures.

The number of newborns dropped to around 31,000 in 2017, down from 82,000 in 1990 just before the collapse of the communist regime when Albania had one of Europe's highest fertility rates, according to Albania's state statistical institute, INSTAT.

Experts say the decline in Albania’s birth rate is a result of cultural changes in the typical Albanian household during the past quarter of a century of the country’s transition to democracy and a market economy, lower marriages and fertility rates and high migration rates which in the past few years transformed into asylum-seeking in wealthy EU member states.

Once the country with the highest fertility rate under communism, Albania has seen its average number of children per woman drop to 1.78, down from 3 in 1990 just before the transition to a multi-party system and a record 6 in the early 1960s, which has contributed to the population shrink and ageing.

Massive migration in the past quarter of century, mainly to Italy and Greece, the hosts of around 1 million Albanian migrants, has also contributed to lower birth rates in the country.

Albania has around 1.2 million migrants abroad, almost 40 percent of its 2.8 million resident population, making it one of the countries with the highest per capita migration around the world.

Experts says Albanians are mostly leaving the country because of economic reasons, looking to escape poverty in their homes but also to integrate into leading European economies and take advantage of better education, health and social protection infrastructure for their families.

International financial institutions have also warned shrinking populations, such as in Albania’s case, pose a formidable fiscal challenge, placing public finances under pressure on increased spending on pensions and health, reduce economic growth and make it more difficult to reduce public debt as a share of GDP.

 

Wage hike

Prime Minister Edi Rama also announced a wage hike for employees in the public education and health sector as well as in the military for next year following a freeze in this year's wage hike after a mid-year budget cut.

In addition to revising downward central government spending and revenue targets, the mid-year changes to the 2018 budget also cut dozens of public administration jobs and canceled funds that were initially intended for public administration salary hikes.

A 1 billion lek (€7.9 mln: $9.2 mln) fund initially intended for salary hikes was cancelled, but year-end rewards to pensioners provided under a 3 billion lek (€23.7 mln; $27.7 mln) solidarity package turned into law in early September.

The wage hike initiative comes as the ruling Socialist Party comfortably governs alone in its second consecutive term of office and public finances have recovered following a series of rather tough reforms in the electricity, water supply and fighting tax evasion in the past five years, often criticized for targeting the poorest and leading to massive departures from the country, especially on ungrounded asylum-seeking.

The initiatives also come as the country will be heading to local elections in mid-2019 and the ruling Socialists target to continue running the country’s largest municipalities.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 26 - The hearing scheduled to seek the imprisonment for Emiljano Shullazi and his cooperators was postponed on Wednesday after one of the defendants and his lawyer did not appear due to health issues, as stated during the opening. 

The head of the Serious Crimes Prosecution, accompanied by three other prosecutors, said the defendants’ absence was intentional. 

The Shullazi process has attracted a lot of attention after the replacement of the cases’ prosecutor, who is on a long-term sick leave, caused debate in the Serious Crimes Prosecution last week.

A group of ten prosecutors refused to participate in the draw that would decide who will replace their colleague Ened Nakuci, which was followed by the initiation of a disciplinary investigation against them ordered by Chief Prosecutor Arta Marku, while three prosecutors were transferred outside Tirana.

The prosecutors, in a letter made public on Friday, called the replacement procedure illegal by saying they were not notified on the meeting’s purpose and that "the draw, and the idea behind the creation of an investigative group of 4 prosecutors in the trial of a criminal case, came at a moment when the case at issue was at the stage of final discussions while the investigative groups should be created at the investigative stage and not at the trial stage, much less at the stage of final discussions.”

Moreover, the prosecutors’ letter claimed that prosecutor Besim Hajdarmataj had already expressed his will to represent the case in the competent court.

The prosecutors’ rejection was followed by a request from Marku to initiate a disciplinary investigation against the entire group.

“Prosecutors have acted in violation of the law that compels them to be part of the lot as long as they are prosecutors of that prosecution, thus acting in open contradiction with the constitutional obligation,” Marku said though a statement.

Marku further pointed out that she cannot sit back when state prosecutors refuse to exercise their constitutional and legal functions. 

“Any prosecutor who refuses to do their job will face disciplinary but also penal charges as appropriate,” Marku added.

On last week’s Thursday, Marku also ordered the transfer to lower prosecutions of three prosecutors - among them was Besim Hajdarmataj, head of the Serious Crimes Prosecution and part of the group investigating former Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri.

This decision was also valued as “illegal, punitive” and “completely violating the independence of magistrates by creating a dangerous precedent” by the prosecutors.

Majority lawmakers have spoken in Marku’s defence, calling the measure more than sensible in a situation like this.

The country’s opposition, on the other hand, accused Marku again of being Prime Minister Edi Rama’s “servant.”

“As we have warned, her role is to destroy the main investigations towards politicians linked with crime and bandits linked with politics,” head of the opposition Lulzim Basha said.

In this context, the heads of the opposition’s two parliamentary groups also placed criminal charges against Marku.

According to Marku’s announcement, none of her decision-making has hampered the investigations towards Tahiri or the Shullazi case.

Emiljano Shullazi, a notorious underworld figure in Albania, is accused of a string of offenses, among which blackmailing businesses to pay large sums of money or handing over their properties for free during the last three years under the protection of the left-wing government and Prime Minister Edi Rama, according to the country’s opposition.

Shullazi has been mentioned by the US Embassy to Albania as one of the “big fish” that need to be caught by the reformed justice system. One day before the hearing that would seek his imprisonment, the embassy told the Voice of America the Albanian people deserve a justice system where police and prosecutors stay united against criminals and added it “supports the brave prosecutors who seek justice, even when there are risks involved.” 

 
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                    [ID] => 138632
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2018-09-25 09:00:29
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-25 07:00:29
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 25 - Over the last twelve months, Albanians have, for the first time, marked the highest number of asylum seekers in report with the population, leaving behind even those who are fleeing from war in their home countries.

This was reported by Albanian media after data published by Eurostat on the number of new applications over the last twelve months and according to the Albanian population as per the World Bank and calculations made by Monitor magazine.

Syria comes after Albania, with a rate of 4.7 applications over the last 12 months, while Georgia comes third, with 3.9 applications for the last 12 months. 

Iraq and Palestine, which also have a high number of asylum seekers per 1000 residents, recorded 1.2 and 1.1 applications respectively.

The top 30 countries with the highest number of asylum seekers are mainly countries at war or deep internal conflict, some African countries and countries currently facing strong economic crises, such as Turkey or Venezuela.

Concerning the absolute number of first-time asylum seekers in the European Union, 18,620 applications have been registered from Albania alone over the past 12 months, ranking seventh in the list of the 30 countries.

Syria tops the category with over 86,000 applications, Iraq follows with over 43,000, Afghanistan with over 36,000, Nigeria with over 29,000, Pakistan with over 25,000 and Eritrea with over 19,000.

However, taking into account these states’ high population number, the Albanian figures remain alarming according to population experts, although the number has been declining after it reached its peak in 2015 with over 60,000 applications.

During the first half of 2018, the total number of first-time asylum applications for Albanians was 8040. According to Eurostat statistics, 136,700 asylum seekers were registered for the first time in the second quarter of 2018 throughout the European Union. Compared to the first trimester, the number rose by four percent.

Meanwhile, Albania continues to be the European country with the highest number of asylum seekers in the EU. According to statistics published by Eurostat, in the second quarter of 2018, 3930 people applied for asylum for the first time, or 3% of the total asylum seekers in the European Union

France appears to be the country with the highest number of asylum seekers for the second trimester of 2018, with 38 percent of applications, or about 1495 applicants.
In the second place in terms of the number of applicants, unlike in the previous trimesters, Greece is ranked second with about 20 percent of asylum applications, or 800 applicants.

 
                    [post_title] => Albania tops Europe’s list of first-time asylum seekers 
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                    [ID] => 138636
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2018-09-25 07:09:48
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-25 05:09:48
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 25 - Albania’s Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati announced on Tuesday the country aims for a non-permanent position at the United Nations’ Security Council.

Bushati said this in the context of his New York visit that opened the UN’s General Assembly session. 

“Albania comes with its own ambition in these sessions, as it is looking for a non-permanent sit at the Security Council for the 2022-2023 period and our communication campaign with partners and countries that know little or nothing about Albania has started in order to fulfill this foreign policy objective,” Bushati said from New York.

According to a statement by the Albanian Foreign Ministry, in bilateral meetings, Minister Bushati, in addition to matters pertaining to the agenda of relations between Albania and other countries, will also seek the support of these countries for candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council.

The UN Security Council is composed of 15 members, of whom five are permanent (France, the United Kingdom, the United States, China and Russia), while ten others are elected for two-year terms (five seats each year).

 
                    [post_title] => Albania seeks a place at the UN Security Council 
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                    [post_modified] => 2018-09-28 09:16:37
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                    [ID] => 138585
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2018-09-24 17:15:40
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-24 15:15:40
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 24 - Albanian police detained 50 illegal refugees at the Kapshtica border point, connecting the country with neighboring Greece.

According to police sources, the refugees, who were Syrians, Palestinians and Iranians were found in the city of Bilisht and in the village of Vernik.

A number of local media reported that among the arrested there were women and children as well. 

The refugees were initially detained by border police and were sent to Tirana after their testimonies were taken. 

Meanwhile, Albanian border authorities say they have seen an increase in the number of refugees, many of whom are from Syria, looking to get out of Greece and transit through Albania to head to Western Europe.

Police in both countries are targeting traffickers who benefit from the desperation of the refugees to move further into the continent.

During the summer, the refugee situation led to a number of controversial discussion in Albanian society and beyond.

Montenegrin authorities, who are the second to be dealing with refugees once, and if, they manage to cross Albania’s border, said during the summer they consider building wired fences to keep them from reaching Montenegro and, then, Croatia, which is a EU country. 

However, so far this plan has not become a reality. 

Meanwhile, in the end of June, as word that Albania might be the country to host Middle East refugees unwanted in Europe increasingly spread both in local and international media, Prime Minister Edi Rama’s Socialist government remained silent, while experts and the population alike strongly condemned the possibility.

Albania has not been directly mentioned as the country that will host the refugees European countries will decide to send away, it has, however, been clearly stated by EU leaders that such an option is being considered. 

 
                    [post_title] => Police detain 50 refugees in Korca, women and children reported among them 
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                    [post_date] => 2018-09-24 09:38:44
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-24 07:38:44
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 24 - Albanian police and the Serious Crimes Prosecution announced on Monday the attack on one of the country’s most dangerous criminal groups - the ‘Bajri’ group, which operated mainly in the North of the country but had also extended its activity in other European countries as well.

The operation, organized under the ‘Force of Law’ police action aiming to strike the largest criminal organizations in Albania, was closed with the arrest of 11 persons, two of them in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and the rest in Tirana and Shkodra.

Three group members were arrested during the intervention the police conducted earlier this month in Shkodra following a series of serious criminal events that occurred in the city. Two other suspects as members of the group are being wanted.

One of the arrested is reported to be Safet Bajri, a highly-sought individual by the Belgian police. 

The charges against the criminal group’s members are numerous: attempted intentional murder in collaboration, intentional murder in collaboration, unauthorized manufacturing and possession of arms and ammunition and manufacturing and sales of narcotics, among others.

According to the official announcement, these offenses were committed within the framework of the structured criminal group. 

The police announcement explained that the investigations which led to the full blow of the Bajri criminal group lasted over the six months. According to the announcement, their success came after hours of wiretapping, exchanged information with partners, thousands of analyzed pages of data and other intensive observations.

“The serious criminal offenses documented so far are two murders in Shkodra, on Feb. 7, 2001, where citizen A.T. was killed, and on June 20, 2002, where the citizen F.H., 15-years-old, was killed. During investigative actions it has also been proved in recent weeks that members of this criminal group have threatened citizens to giving them considerable sums of money,” the announcement continued.

The ‘Bajri’ group, in cooperation with other criminal groups inside and outside of Albania, is suspected of also trafficking hard narcotics in European countries and then investing the profits in Albania.

In the framework of this operation, the police, executing the order of the Serious Crimes Prosecution, also seized one resort in Velipoja and one bar in Shkodra owned by the group and suspected of being a product of criminal activity.

 
                    [post_title] => Police arrest 11 during action against Northern ‘Bajri’ criminal group 
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                    [ID] => 138602
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                    [post_date] => 2018-09-22 12:17:39
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-22 10:17:39
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 22 - The Serious Crimes Prosecution announced on Friday the court has accepted its request to seize 29 assets of various kinds from the so-called ‘Habilaj Group’, Albanian brothers from Vlora accused of being involved in narcotics trafficking and allegedly related with former Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri.

The long list of assets appears in the name of Moisi Habilaj, allegedly the leader of the group that dealt with the dispatch of large quantities of marijuana to Italy, where last October the Catania authorities targeted the Albanian group as part of an Italian- Albanian criminal organization.

Among the sequestered assets and properties are also those belonging to people connected with the Habilaj group. Among them are at least ten apartments with a total value of several hundred thousand euros.

In addition, three buildings, a garage, a piece of land, four trading units, four other real estate and five cars were seized. In total, according to the Prosecutor's Office, the value of assets under seizure mounts to several million euros.

Alleged ties with the Habilaj brothers, with whom he is related, placed former Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri under scrutiny last year.

Investigations against him started after the Italian authorities hit the criminal organization in Catania, while in the interceptions carried out Tahiri’s name was mentioned several times in conversations among traffickers.

In this context, the prosecution requested Tahiri’s arrest several times, however the socialist majority refused on the grounds the prosecution had not provided any evidence.

In May 2018, Tahiri resigned from his mandante as an MP. Shortly thereafter, the prosecution appealed again for his arrest, but the court only sentenced him to house arrest - a decision that was again changed a few weeks later by the Court of Appeals.

Tahiri has denied any links with the Habilaj group and their illegal drug trafficking, while investigations towards him are ongoing. 

 
                    [post_title] => Habilaj assets of several million euros seized by Serious Crimes Prosecution 
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            [ID] => 138675
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            [post_date] => 2018-09-30 11:06:20
            [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-30 09:06:20
            [post_content] => TIRANA, Sept. 30 - Two border police officers at the Mother Teresa Airport were arrested on Saturday, while authorities also issued arrest warrants for five Macedonian citizens and another Albanian employee of an airport security company during the operation against a group that was dealing with illegal trafficking of persons to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The action that took place over Friday night and the early hours of Saturday morning is the second part of an operation that started in March of this year, leading to the arrest of 39 people.

The operation was conducted in cooperation among the State Police, Serious Crimes Prosecution and US partners, who said 12 Albanian and international citizens are now wanted.

“Meanwhile, following the investigation, it been made possible to identify and then arrest, on September 28, 2018 as associates in this structured criminal group, two police officers with border control duties and a security agent,” the police statement clarified.

Investigations into this case have shown that seven structured criminal groups operating in Albania, Bulgaria, Spain, France, the Dominican Republic, Italy, the United Kingdom, the US, Canada have enabled the smuggling of over 300 Albanian citizens towards countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

“For each person, 7,000 pounds were paid for the United Kingdom and 25,000 to 30,000 dollars for the US and Canada. Members of these criminal groups through active actions assisted Albanian citizens interested in illegally immigrating to the above-mentioned countries by falsifying travel documents and IDs of EU countries,” the statement concluded.
            [post_title] => Police arrest two Rinas border police officers, part of human trafficking ring 
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