Special Prosecution demands 12 years in prison for former Interior Minister

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Following many failed sessions, the Special Court of Appeals took up the case against former Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri today.

Prosecutors from the Special Prosecution Against Corruption (SPAK) insisted that Tahiri was guilty regarding the accusations that linked him to drug trafficking and a structured criminal group. They requested a 12-year prison sentence from the judge.

However, because the trial was expedited, they petitioned the court to cut the sentence by another third, asking a final term of eight years in jail.

Meanwhile, Saimir Tahiri maintained that none of the charges against him are valid, claiming that he had no communication with Habilaj gang members.

The Special Court of Appeals has scheduled a hearing for February 4 at 13:00 p.m. for the former Minister of the Interior, Saimir Tahiri.

The rise and fall of Rama’s “Champion,” the “Tahiri” file

From bbeing “the champion” of the “Rama” government, and the famous expression for the police and its actions, very soon Saimir Tahiri would face serious accusations.

Dritan Zagani, the previous chief of anti-drugs in Vlora, accused him of obstructing police activities to catch drug dealers in September 2015. While on the run, Zagani made those allegations, alleging Saimir Tahiri’s vehicle had been used for drug trafficking by the minister’s cousins in Vlora.

Tahiri, as well as the Prime Minister, dismissed the allegations at the time, calling them “slander from the dirt that was being hurled at the administration.” However, a month later, Italian police announced the arrest of seven people suspected of being involved in drug trafficking. Moisi Habilaj, Saimir Tahiri’s cousin, was their leader.

The Democratic Party released the whole file a day after Habilaj’s arrest, which included 413 pages of wiretaps in which the defendants mentioned Tahiri’s name. The Prosecution of Serious Crimes immediately made a request to Parliament the same day, with the first demand being authorisation for Saimir Tahiri’s arrest. The Mandate Committee decided to give him custody of his home after multiple hearings, but not to lift his political immunity. Parliament had the last say.

Prime Minister Rama also gave a speech before deciding to vote for Saimir Tahiri. His parliamentary group speech will be noted for the epithets directed at Tahiri.

“I don’t believe it is necessary to state this. If I learned at the end of this story that Saimir Tahiri is not the one I know, the one that everyone has believed in and supported, but a worm who does not deserve the word “human,” it would be the worst letdown of my life, the most terrible lesson of my life in public service!”

Tahiri’s career with the Socialist Party

In 2005, at the age of 26, Saimir Tahiri was introduced by the Socialist Party’s leader, Edi Rama, as the party’s new spokesman.

He was elected to the Parliament four years later as a member of the Tirana lists for the Kombinat area. The SP did not win the 2009 elections, and Tahiri was one of the most vocal opponents.

Following his election as an MP, he became the leader of the Socialist Party of Tirana in 2012. In the meantime, he was named the director of the “Qemal Stafa” Foundation. In September 2013, soon after the political rotation, when Edi Rama took over the government, his devotion was rewarded with the position of Interior Minister.

Since then, he has become the Democratic Party’s most attacked minister. The opposition accused him in particular of having ties to Emiliano Shullazi, a well-known crime figure.

His crowning success was the cannabis-growing village of Lazarat. After the police action, the little village near Gjirokastra lost its position as an independent republic where drugs were grown. However, the opposition claims that drugs have infiltrated the entire country. The government, on the other hand, did not agree.

Edi Rama dismisses Tahiri and three other ministers from the government in May 2017. Was it Ilir Meta’s or international partners’ request? Rama responded simply to these questions, openly declaring Tahiri “a champion”.

The former minister’s return to Parliament following the elections was not without incident, as the prosecution filed charges against him only months later. And, despite his first defense, Saimir Tahiri resigned as a member of the Albanian Parliament in May 2018, effectively ending his political career.

It remains to be seen if this will be temporarily or permanently.