SPAK makes the majority of the asses of the Habilaj drug gang – Exit
On Friday, the Special Court for Corruption and Organized Crime (SPAK) decided to lift the order to seize most of the Habilaj family’s property. Instead, he ordered confiscation and only transferred about a third of their assets to the state.
Moisi Hablaj and his associates were found guilty and sentenced by Italian and Albanian courts.
SPAK did not specify the value of the confiscated assets. Out of 29 seized goods, only nine, including real estate and vehicles, will be confiscated.
Moisi was sentenced to 15 years in prison for drug trafficking, membership in a criminal group and committing criminal offenses as a member of a criminal group. His associates also received severe punishments.
The Habilaj family was first apprehended by Italian authorities in 2017, after being under surveillance for four years. It was only after the Italian authorities acted that the Albanian police took action against the family. They raided the village of Babica e Vogel where they found five tonnes of cannabis.
Vladimir Mara, a prosecutor who represented SPAK in the case, says BIRN that forensic experts have stated that around 80 million leks (650,982 EUR) have been obtained by legal means and are therefore not subject to seizure.
The arrest of Habiliaj family caused a great scandal in Albania. Moisi was well known in Albania due to frequent public accusations of drug trafficking in Greece and Italy.
A former employee of the Fier police anti-drug division, Dritan Zagani, first reported him for drug trafficking. He said he gave information to the Guardia di Finanza mission in Albania as well as to his superiors. Instead of the investigative process, Zagani was accused of disclosing information about his investigation and was arrested and placed under house arrest. He fled Albania and sought asylum in Switzerland.
He then claimed that the charge against him was at the request of the then interior minister, Saimir Tahiri. The Habilaj are cousins of Tahiri, and he alleged that their drug trafficking activities were carried out under this protection.
It was then alleged that Tahiri loaned the gang his personal car, so that they could smuggle drugs into Greece because the police would not intercept a vehicle belonging to a minister.
Tahiri denied any relationship with the Habilajs and said he sold the car in question. He was then forced to admit that he still owned it, but claimed he sold it and did not report the income. This admission of tax evasion has never given rise to prosecution.
Tahiri was subsequently brought to justice for international drug trafficking, participation in a “structured criminal organization” and “criminal activity within the framework of a structured criminal organization”.
He denied all the charges. He was finally sentenced to five years in prison, shortened to three years and four months. The court dropped all initial charges and instead sentenced him to an abuse of power.
However, Tahiri will not serve a prison sentence. The court put him on probation for three years and banned him from holding public office during that time.
Meanwhile, Tahiri hired a reputable American manager to clear his name with the “political and intelligence community in the United States.”
Stone Strategic Solutions was reportedly hired by Tahiri and reported to the US Department of Justice on the basis of the provisions of the Foreign Agent Registration Act. Reports on these forms of lobbying are mandatory in the United States.
According to documents on file with the government, the company was hired to help it “communicate with members of the United States Congress, the State Department, the Department of Justice and the intelligence community regarding his resignation from the government and the problems associated with its legal battle in Albania.
The documents also say the company will work to counter “false information and false allegation campaigns in the media targeting Tahiri.”
Exit is not aware of any pending case by Tahiri against a media platform for libel or slander.