TIRANA, Albania — Albania’s parliament has lifted the immunity of a former interior minister suspected of being involved with a drug trafficking ring.

Lawmakers on Wednesday voted to allow prosecutors to question Saimir Tahiri and search his residence but not arrest him.

Tahiri was interior minister until March and remains a lawmaker with the governing Socialist Party.

Prosecutors have linked Tahiri with a criminal group suspected of trafficking large amounts of cannabis. Some of its leaders were recently arrested in Italy.

Prosecutors have asked for his arrest. Tahiri has denied links to the criminal gang.

Enkelejd Alibeaj of the opposition Democratic Party said Tahiri should be arrested and probed for using dirty money to fund the Socialist Party’s electoral campaign earlier this year.

Fighting drug trafficking and organized crime is a challenge for post-communist Albania, a NATO member since 2009 that is seeking to launch full membership negotiations with the European Union.

Prime Minister Edi Rama has pledged to get Albania off the list of top cannabis-producing countries by the end of the year.


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