Prosecutors Demand 12 Years in Prison for Former Albanian Minister Saimir Tahiri

Prosecutors demanded 12 year in prison for Saimir Tahiri, the former Albanian Minister of Interior.

The same sentence was demanded today for Jaeld Çela, the former head of Vlora Police.

Saimir Tahiri and Jaeld Çela face charges of participation in a criminal organization and international drug trafficking.

In today’s session Tahiri denied charges of ties to the Habilaj gang, while admitted that he sold his car to them, journalist Klodiana Lala reported from the court.

Lala added that a female police officer testifying for the prosecution, who travelled at least 10 times with the Habilajs to Italy, has stated that Tahiri and criminal group leader Moisi Habilaj had “a special connection”. She testified that Habilaj told her he had “strong support in the capital”, and that he would “get nervous” any time Minister Tahiri’s name would be mentioned.

Investigations against Tahiri started in October 2017, following arrests of ringleader Moisi Habilaj and other members of the criminal organization in Catania, Italy.

In February 2019, the Serious Crimes Prosecution concluded investigations and filed charges against Tahiri and three other former police chiefs. Jaeld Çela and two other high police officials, Gjergj Kohila and Sokol Bode, have been on the run since November 2017.

In the previous session, the court had approved Tahiri’s request for an “abbreviated trial”, which means that his final sentence will be reduced by 1/3.