The Italian Court of Catania sentenced the ringleader of the Habilaj criminal group, Moisi Habilaj, to 15 years in prison today. Other members Nazer Seiti and Meridian Sulaj were sentenced to 8 years in prison, local Italian media reports.
The Habilaj criminal group is also facing a trial in Albania. On May 29, the court had to postpone the hearing against the group, after they failed to notify its two members Sabaudin Celaj and Nazer Seiti who were under house arrest in Italy.
Coincidentally, former Minister of Interior Sajmir Tahiri, who stands accused on charges of participation in the same criminal group, as well as corruption and international drug trafficking, requested an abbreviated trial from the Albanian court, which could result in a 1/3 reduction of his sentence.
Moisi Habilaj and Meridian Sulaj were arrested by the Italian police on 16 October 2017.
Nazer Seiti was arrested three days later in Vlorë, Albania, where police also found 4.5 tons of cannabis during the operation. Despite being under investigation by the Serious Crimes Prosecution Office in Albania, Nazer Seiti was extradited to Italy on 25 January 2018, in violation of the law.
On 2 November 2017, following the arrest of the criminal group members, Italian police released wiretaps in which Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri was mentioned in conversations between criminals.
Celaj and Seiti are two potential witnesses who may shed light on Tahiri’s possible involvement and help to facilitate drug trafficking for the Habilaj criminal group.
Click here for a brief summary of Tahiri’s ties to the Habilajs criminal group, and here for some additional details emerging later.
You can read here, here, and here on government and prosecution tricks to dismantle investigations in the case.