Turkey holds Albanian diplomat in 65 kilos of heroin bust
08 May 2009, REUTERS TIRANA, ALBANIA
An Albanian diplomat has been detained in Turkey on charges of trafficking drugs, authorities said on Friday, confirming reports he was arrested while carrying 65 kg (143 lb) of heroin.
The arrest of Agim Haxhiu, second secretary of the Albanian embassy in Macedonia, is the country’s second recent diplomatic drug embarrassment after an embassy driver was arrested in Italy with a kilogram of cocaine last year.
“İstanbul police notified us by fax that citizen Agim Haxhiu has been detained on the charge of ‘trading narcotic substances,'” the Albanian foreign ministry said in a statement.
Foreign Minister Lulzim Basha sacked Haxhiu because he had not shown up to work since Monday. Albania also lifted his diplomatic immunity.
Newspapers said the drugs were worth 650,000 euros ($871,500) at the Turkey-Bulgaria border where he was detained but would have had a street value of 2.5 million euros in Italy or Greece.
The foreign ministry said it had contacted Turkey about Haxhiu’s whereabouts after he went missing, worrying his family and the embassy staff in Skopje, Macedonia. It found he had entered Turkey via Bulgaria on May 1.
Citing Turkish police, the ministry said he was now in İstanbul’s Maltepe prison.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs deems it necessary to stress that citizen Agim Haxhiu does not enjoy any diplomatic privileges and immunity and will be prosecuted according to Turkish laws and international conventions,” it said.