#BREAKING – Albanian Former Interior Minister Gives Up Parliamentary Mandate Amid Allegations of Drug Trafficking Investigation

Saimir Tahiri and Edi Rama
Former Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri and Albanian PM Edi Rama

Tirana, Albania, May 5 (Tirana Echo) — Albania’s former interior minister Saimir Tahiri has given up his parliamentary mandate amid allegations of involvement in drug trafficking and stalled investigation by prosecutor’s office.

Last year Albania’s Parliament lifted Tahiri’s immunity but the ruling socialist majority failed to approve an authorization for arrest, following a request by the Serious Crimes Prosecutor based on allegations of links with drug trafficking network in Italy.

During a press conference this morning, a visibly emotional Tahiri said he was resigning from his mandate in parliament in order to make way for prosecutors to investigate freely into his alleged involvement in a drug trafficking ring.

The decision follows strong demands by opposition parties that socialist prime minister Edi Rama is protecting his former minister of interior while during a visit to Berlin last week, several right wing German MPs demanded explanations on why Tahiri’s investigation was not advancing.

Saimir Tahiri, one of the closes aides of PM Edi Rama and former head of the Socialist Party in Tirana, served as interior minister from 2013-2017. He has been accused by opposition parties that he is closely linked to drug smuggling networks, following recordings of a criminal group in Sicily last year.

Tahiri has constantly denied any links to organized crime, insisting his case is a typical political which-hunt to hide criminal activities of the past government.

Speaking this morning in parliament, Tahiri said: “When the devil judges you, when this race of people who have stolen through politics and then thanks to politics have not been punished… I could never accept it. The thief talks about honesty. I have not given up and I don’t intend to do it. I do not wish to escape justice and I want only the full truth.

Tahiri’s move invalidates a special investigative parliamentary committee looking into the Tahiri case led by opposition democrats. After the announcement, the democratic party has said the move was well coordinated between Tahiri and Rama in order to avoid further scandals in Europe ahead of accession talks.

After a positive recommendation by the European Commission to open EU membership talks, Albania hopes EU member countries will decide in June to formally open accession talks.

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