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Court orders abuse of post retrial for ex-Albanian minister

June 26, 2020 GMT

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — An Albanian appeals court on Friday ordered the re-trial of a former interior minister who was convicted of abuse of office last year.

The basis for the Tirana Appeals Court judges’ decision to overturn last year’s conviction was not immediately clear. The former minister, Saimir Tahiri, called Friday’s ruling “a return to point zero that is unfair” and told journalists, “I guarantee I have never committed a crime.”

A lower court In September sentenced Tahiri to three years of probation for abuse of office but acquitted him of charges based on his alleged ties to a criminal network suspected of trafficking large amounts of marijuana.

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Prosecutors first accused Tahiri of alleged links to drug trafficking, corruption and involvement in a criminal organization. They tied the case to some of Tahiri’s relatives who were arrested or jailed for drug trafficking in Italy and Albania.

Tahiri, who served as interior minister during 2013-2017, resigned as a lawmaker with the governing Socialist Party in May 2018 and briefly held under house arrest.

Albania was once known as a European crossroads for marijuana trafficking, but there are now more cases involving the trafficking of heroin and cocaine trafficking to Western European countries.

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