From: Exit Staff
Retrial for Ex-Minister Charged with Drug Trafficking Postponed for a Second Time

The retrial for Albania’s former Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri has been postponed for a second time after a third judge excused herself from the proceedings.

Tahiri was arrested in 2017 for involvement in a structured criminal group suspected of drug trafficking with the Habilaj brothers, relatives of the former minister. He was sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in prison for abuse of office in September 2019. The first instance court converted the controversial sentence to three years in probation, and barred him from exercising public office during this time.

In September, the High Court decided that Tahiri must be retried by a different appeals panel given the prosecutorial failures during his previous trial.

Prosecutors had demanded 12 year in prison for Tahiri on charges of “international drug trafficking”, participation in a “structured criminal organization”, and “criminal activity under a structured criminal organization.”

The court dropped all three charges and instead sentenced him for abuse of office.

The High Court’s ruling stated that Tahiri was not provided with a chance to defend himself on charges of abuse of office.

The Special Court of Appeals had demanded a retrial, arguing that the court of first instance violated the Code of Criminal Procedure by sentencing him on a different charge, on which he was not being investigated.

Last year, Tahiri appealed the ruling to the High Court, demanding a retrial by a different panel of judges of the Appeals Court. On the other hand, the Special Prosecution against Organized Crime demanded the High Court to order a retrial at the first instance court.