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From Hero To Villain – The Rise And Fall Of An Albanian Minister

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For six months now, former Interior Minister, Saimir Tahiri, has not been part of the parliamentary socialist mandate. After various reports last year of his involvement in drug trafficking in Italy, he withdrew from the majority, remaining an independent MP. It was supposed that during this period the General Prosecution Office should have continued further investigations, after the Italian Police informed that his name was mentioned in secret conversations with members of an Albanian criminal group trafficking drugs across the Adriatic. The file was sent to Albania, but, since then, no further investigation has been made.

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Yesterday, quite suddenly, Tahiri held a press conference, declaring he is handing over his mandate. He has always proclaimed himself innocent.

Analysts believe there are many doubts regarding such a move now and what hides behind. In his press conference, the former Interior Minister stated he does not need a mandate to face justice. “I have never surrendered. I will defend myself against all non-based accusations, as I do not expect morale from the heads of crime”, he stated. Tahiri attacked all corrupt politicians from all sides, saying they have robbed, murdered and lied for 30 years. He called their denigrating campaign against him as the trial by the devil. “The cannabis areas have existed before I became minister. The former governments had the information and they did not intervene”. He was referring to the Lazarat area in Southern Albania, which was known to be under government protection continuously. And it was only during his time as minister, when the state intervened with police forces, that put an end to it. At that time, he was considered one of the most successful Interior Ministers in Albania. Everyone appraised his courage and determination fighting against crime.

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According to analysts, there may be some reasons why his action came only now, after Prime Minister Rama’s return from Germany.

Perhaps Rama promised Merkel not to support the former minister’s political immunity any more, leaving him to the responsibility of the Prosecution Office. Also his actions could be due to opposition pressure in the parliament, as they did not allow him to speak and defend himself there. There is also international pressure and intensification of Prosecution Office investigations that force the majority in parliament not to protect him anymore. Handing over the mandate voluntarily, makes him appear better in front of the public. Now he remains in the hands of justice.

Analysts think he is trying to send a strong message to everyone by his last move – he intends to speak, becoming more dangerous and declaring war on everyone.

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