What Happened with Tahiri after Parliament Prevented His Arrest

On October 25, 2017, Parliament denied the request of the Prosecution of Serious Crimes to allow the possibility of arresting  PS deputy Saimir Tahiri. According to the report of the PS deputies on the Council of Mandates and Immunity adopted in Parliament, it would only remove Tahiri’s immunity against search of his property and person, while also banning him from traveling to foreign countries.

After this controversial decision of Parliament – it is legally unclear whether Parliament can decide to lift only part of the parliamentary immunity – a number of events happened related to the affair implicating the former minister in an international drug trafficking network.

October 26: The prosecution searches the home of Saimir Tahiri.

October 27: Tahiri is interrogated for two hours by the Prosecution of Serious Crimes about his links to the Habilaj criminal group.

October 31: Tahiri is dismissed as the chairman of the PS in Tirana and coordinator of the co-governance platform with ordinary citizens.

November 1: In a telephone interview with News24, Meridionews journalist Dario De Luca, who first written about the Tahiri–Habilaj affair, confirmed that the wiretaps published so far in the media refer to Tahiri.

On the same date, Orest Sota was arrested after fleeing from the police at a checkpoint. The 25-year-old businessman turned out to hold €800,000 in his car as well as two boating licenses of Saimir Tahiri, for boats of respectively 20 and 100 tons. Sota claimed the money was payment for iron from the bankrupt Turkish company Kurum. Kurum denied that such payments could be made in cash and are only accepted through wire transfers. About the boating licenses, Sota suggested that Tahiri’s driver had forgotten them in the car.

During Tahiri’s tenure, Sota’s company Eco Construction & Partners, founded in 2015, has renovated police commissariat 6 in the zone where Tahiri had been elected. Sota is the son of businessman Lefter Sota and nephew of special forces captain Vasillaq Sota.

Tahiri, and the rest of the government, has remained completely silent about either the ownership of €800,000 or his boating licences. Tahiri himself always publicly denied owning a boat.

November 7: Journalist Basir Collaku reports that Sota’s car belonged to construction company owner Armando Lilo. Lilo’s company is currently involved in the controversial construction project that has destroyed the Bus Station Park along Rr. e Kavajës

November 15: Tahiri leaves Albania and travels to Germany, allegedly to visit a sick family member in the hospital, even though Parliament has prohibited him from traveling out of the country. Neither the prosecution nor his lawyer was aware of this trip.