Opposition: Interior minister helped shield brother convicted of drug trafficking in Italy

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 10, 2018 19:19

Opposition: Interior minister helped shield brother convicted of drug trafficking in Italy

Story Highlights

  • DP says Xhafaj has not only political and moral responsibility but also legal responsibility in the case, as Albanian legislation gives police serving under the interior minister the power to identify people convicted in absentia in a foreign court.

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TIRANA, May 10 – Albania’s main opposition Democratic Party said Thursday Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj has helped his brother, Agron Xhafaj, skip a prison sentence in Italy, where he has been convicted of participating in a drug trafficking criminal organization.

At a press conference, DP officials Enkelejd Alibeaj and Gazmend Bardhi published documents that they said prove that Xhafaj’s brother was convicted in Italy for international drug trafficking and has not served his sentence, living from 2013 onwards in Albania.

DP says Xhafaj has not only political and moral responsibility but also legal responsibility in the case, as Albanian legislation gives police serving under the interior minister the power to identify people convicted in absentia in a foreign court.

“It is the duty of the Interior Minister and his subordinates in the State Police to identify Agron Xhafaj and arrest him so he can serve the sentence,” said Bardhi, a former DP justice minister.

According to the documents published Thursday, Agron Xhafaj was convicted as a member of a narcotics trafficking organization operating in Albania, Italy, Poland and the United States. His appeals to higher courts had also failed, and the conviction stands, according to the documents published by the Democratic Party.

Minister Xhafaj said in parliament that the events for which his brother stands accused happened many years ago, with him being “in the wrong place at the wrong time” and “being young in the wrong crowd.”

Xhafaj also said his brother’s action cannot affect his political career as each person has his own life.

However, DP officials say the minister’s inaction and ability to influence the wording of the penal code as a former head of parliament’s laws commission put him in conflict of interest.

Opposition lawmakers accused Xhafaj directly in parliament Thursday, briefly blocking normal proceedings before abandoning the session.

Albania’s former Prime Minister Sali Berisha said current Prime Minister Edi Rama tried to protect, back in 2016, Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj’s brother.

Rama’s post from 2016 noted: “Sali has undertaken his dirty campaign to stain Agron Xhafaj this time! In his old and disgustingly Bolshevik style, he has made an accusation based on a made up story, for Fatmir’s brother. A story about Venezuelan drugs for the father of two children who is honorable in his job and only has one fault: he is the brother of the man who is leading the most difficult and important reform of the past 25 years.”

After details that Agron Xhafaj had been surveilled by Italian police for drug trafficking came out on Wednesday, the DP presented in parliament what it claims is proof that Xhafaj personally interfered so that his brother wouldn’t be serving his sentence as a convicted drug trafficker.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 10, 2018 19:19