Albania in Political Chaos – Former Interior Minister polarizes politics in the tiny Balkan state

saimir tahiri albania
Saimir Tahiri speaking at the Council on Mandates and Immunity at the Albanian Parliament

Tirana, Oct 24 (Tirana Echo) – The demand by Albania’s Prosecutor to lift the immunity of former interior minister Saimir Tahiri has polarized the country’s political scene with no end at sight, pushing all sides into a mutual accusations saga.

Last week, the Serious Crimes Prosecutor of Albania officially demanded Parliament for the lifting of parliamentary immunity of former interior minister Saimir Tahiri MP, a move which would open the way for his arrest, following allegations of links with drug trafficking network in Italy.

However, the subsequent parliamentary Committee on Mandates and Immunity, which is the body authorizing the lifting of parliamentary immunity before a vote in Parliament, was taken hostage by political rhetoric and mutual accusations by both majority socialists and opposition democrats, shadowing any details of the investigation.

Following an indecisive vote, the parliamentary committee decided to come out with two separate reports to Parliament, which is to consider to lift Tahiri’s immunity in tomorrow’s planned plenary session. The entire process has been marked by numerous media allegations that further ‘secret’ details are to come from Italy and that other ministers may be involved in trafficking between Albania and Italy. However, no substantial proof has come out yet, prompting Prime Minister Edi Rama to call the entire process a ‘political farce’.

Rama confirmed yesterday during a parliamentary group meeting that the socialist party has frozen all party functions of Mr. Tahiri until the investigation is completed and the former interior minister is acquitted of all charges against him.

However, this afternoon, Mr. Tahiri gave a press conference sharing an original document of the Italian Catania Prosecutor confirming that there is no official case against Saimir Tahiri in Italy, later accusing the Albanian Prosecutor of playing into cheap political interests and going after him at the service of a political agenda.

Opposition parties quickly dismissed Tahiri’s comments as nonsense, adding the Italian prosecutor’s duty is to only investigate cases on its territory and not that of the duty of an interior minister inside Albania.

Enkeled Alibeaj of the Democratic Party said that it is the duty of the Albanian prosecutor to investigate Tahiri and its links to drug trafficking.

“Prime Minister Rama and Saimir Tahiri are attempting at any cost to obstruct the duty of the prosecutors. The charges against Tahiri contain 1800 pages of proof and facts coming from Italian justice, and they point to millions of Euros profited by Tahiri’s involvement”, – said Alibeaj.

The Albanian Parliament is to vote tomorrow on lifting Tahiri’s immunity with opposition parties DP and LSI voting in favor and governing socialists against the prosecutor’s request to arrest the former interior minister and one of the closest allies of PM Edi Rama. The vote is widely expected to grant prosecutors permission to investigate and search Tahiri’s house for any proof which may incriminate him.

Copyright 2017 Tirana Echo. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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