Albania’s ex-interior minister faces 12-year prison sentence if found guilty of drug links

By bne IntelliNews September 11, 2019

Albanian ex-interior minister Saimir Tahiri is facing a 12-year prison sentence if he is found guilty of links with a drug trafficking network, local media reported on September 10.

Tahiri, Albania's longest-serving interior minister, held the post in the Socialist-led government from 2013 to 2017. His name has been linked with two brothers, both suspected drug traffickers, one of whom, Moisi Habilaj, was arrested in Italy in 2017. Tahiri admitted they are his distant cousins, but said the accusations against him are baseless.

Prosecutors sought a 12-year prison term for Tahiri during the marathon seven-hour court hearing on September 10. Tahiri has been accused of being tied to a crime network suspected of trafficking large amounts of cannabis. The next court session will be held on September 19.

The investigation against Tahiri was launched two years ago. Tahiri resigned as an MP in 2018 to allow the independent investigation to go ahead, but denied any connections to the alleged trafficking network.

After the court session Tahiri said he did his best to reduce criminality while he was interior minister.

Sources familiar with the case said that Tahiri had an excellent defence.

Drug trafficking and organised crime are among the biggest challenges for the Socialist-led government, which was elected for a second mandate following the June 2017 general election.

Related Articles

European Council head Tusk urges EU leaders to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia

The president of the European Council Donald Tusk urged EU leaders on September 17 to launch membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia in October as they promised in June. In June, the ... more

Parliament commission questions Albanian president in impeachment process

An Albanian parliamentary commission questioned the country’s President Ilir Meta on September 9, as part of proceedings for his dismissal after he tried to cancel the June 30 local ... more

Interior minister says Albania has won the fight against cannabis cultivation

Albania’s Interior Minister Sander Lleshaj said on August 10 that the country has won the fight against the cultivation of cannabis, rejecting opposition claims of links between the government and ... more