History Repeats Itself, Rama Goes after His Ministers’ Attackers

As more evidence confirming Dritan Zagani’s accusations against Saimir Tahiri emerges every day, it seems that three years after these first revelations history is repeating itself – this time with the new Minister of Interior Affairs Fatmir Xhafaj, whose brother was involved with an international drug trafficking gang and was convicted by the Italian courts.

Once again, Prime Minister Edi Rama has decided to defend his Minister and pressure the witness accusing Xhafaj’s brother of continuing his criminal drug trafficking activities.

In an interview published by the Democratic Party, Albert Veliu – identified as Witness X in the wiretaps– claimed that immediately after the recording was released, his son was received threats.

As in the Tahiri case, Rama came to the defense of Xhafaj:

Today, the Interior Minister has no moral or legal responsibility to account for.

The Prime Minister went even further, rushing to make heavy-handed declarations, de facto taking on the role of a lawyer, by publicly defending someone still under investigation:

I have sought the legal expertise of specialized international agencies and have mobilized the appropriate structures in order to obtain any evidence regarding the Minister of Interior’s brother.

Yesterday, I received the scientific analysis from one of the world’s best laboratories. That was enough for me to tell you that we are not facing any incriminating evidence against the minister. We are facing an inauthentic material aiming at destabilizing the country.

In September 2015 Rama acted similarly. He openly attacked Dritan Zagani, the former head of the Vlora Border Police, who accused the Habilaj brothers of criminal activity and being affiliated with Saimir Tahiri. The Prime Minister was loud and clear:

A criminal, one of those that the reborn State Police has had the courage to identify in its own ranks and to purge, a collaborator of drug traffickers who leaked police operations has become the hero of the opposition, recently even of the head of state.

Also loud and clear was the Prime Minister’s stout defense of Saimir Tahiri:

I pay attention that what anyone says about you […] when I hear any type of accusations, any type of monstrosities, and any type of verbal attacks on the Minister of Interior, on the chiefs of the State Police, on the government itself in relation to crime and with everything related to the battle for which you leave your house every morning. It must be without a doubt very heavy. It must be without a doubt very discouraging, it must be without a doubt very difficult not to be shaken by doubts that maybe I, a police officer together with my colleagues or together with all the girls that recently joined the State Police, that we’re doing it for nothing, that we’re fighting windmills, while our managers, our minister, while our government were related, if not leading all this criminal activity. […]

You should be proud with the results, the numbers, and incontestable facts you have thrown to the ground an incredible quantity of mud that for months on end has fallen on the State Police, on its directors, and on the Ministry of Interior.

On May 1, 2014, Dritan Zagani was arrested in the middle of the night by the Fier police. He was accused of abuse of office and collaborating with criminal groups. After more than a year of house arrest, accompanied by a long, drawn out judicial process, Zagani and his family escaped to Switzerland. Afterwards, Zagani requested and was granted political refugee status by the Swiss government on the basis of his political persecution as whistleblower against the government.