Prosecution demands 12 years of prison for former Interior Minister

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 10, 2019 14:59

Prosecution demands 12 years of prison for former Interior Minister

TIRANA, Sept. 10 – The Serious Crimes Prosecution demanded on Tuesday 12 years in prison for former Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri for collaborating with a criminal group trafficking narcotics to Italy in at least four cases during 2013 and 2015.

Former Minister Tahiri and former Vlora police director Jaeld Cela are charged with trafficking narcotics as a structured criminal group and committing offenses as a structured group.

The prosecution presented the findings of the investigation, according to which Tahiri is charged with four cases of narcotics trafficking to Italy on October 25, 2013, February 27, 2014, July 29, 2014 and May 8, 2015.

According to investigators, Tahiri and Cela, who have been under charges for more than a year, have created protection for traffickers.

At today’s hearing, the telephone wiretaps were read in favor of the charges.

Tahiri dismissed the allegations as unfounded in evidence, saying the Habilaj was group was prosecuted several times during his tenure as minister. He added that for the first he had just been appointed minister, while in the second he was only minister for two months, and could have no connection.

Tahiri said he has never helped his cousins ​​already arrested in Italy. 

He said they were prosecuted in October 2013, and later he personally denounced and prosecuted the Habilaj brothers, Artan, Florian and Moisi Habilaj, for kidnapping.

The Serious Crimes Court has accepted the request for a summary trial, a ruling that automatically reduces his sentence to one third.  If the court imposes 12 years in prison, as the prosecution demanded, Tahiri could be sentenced to eight years in prison.

Tahiri was elected as an MP through the ruling Socialist Party of Prime Minister Edi Rama and expelled from the group after the allegation surfaced. Using immunity rules, his fellow Socialist MPs did not allow prosecutors to arrest Tahiri, however, and he had become a large target for the opposition and international representatives.

Moisi Habilaj, a distant cousin of former minister Tahiri, was arrested among several other suspects, by Italian authorities. Tahiri, one of the longest serving interior ministers who was in office from September 2013 to March 2017, faced calls for his arrest after his name came up in wiretaps in the case, published by Italians police.

He has denied any wrongdoing, saying the request for his arrest is politically motivated.

The 37-year-old MP, one of the key figures of the Socialist Party in its previous four-year-term, became one of the most controversial topics regarding Rama’s governance and the allegations against him of closely cooperating with criminal circles during both his terms. 

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 10, 2019 14:59