Albanian Daily News
Travel agencies suspected of favouring illegal emigration

Mch 14, 2000

TIRANA - Prosecutors are investigating suspicions that several travel agencies are involved in favouring the illegal emigration of Albanians into Western countries, said a Prosecution Office source on Sunday.

The source claimed that at least eight tourist agencies have been involved in an alleged illegal traffic network by arranging tourist tours for Albanian groups to Western countries, with part of the group members staying on abroad and not returning to Albania.

The travel agencies secure the travel tickets and accommodation, and also the entry visa for the country of destination.

The source said that investigations were still in the preliminary stage and no legal steps will be undertaken without first the securing of hard evidence of the agencies’ intentional involvement in the affair.

The probe into the travel agencies is part a bigger investigation into police corruption in one of Albania’s main exit ports, Rinas international airport. Several immigration officers at the airport are under investigation for favouring illegal emigration by taking bribes.

Police authorities are also questioning dozens of people who have been returned to Albania in the past few days by immigration officers in several Western countries. The cases involved travelling with forged documents and also the taking of illegal trips to Italy by speed-boat.

Tirana’s District Prosecutor Thoma Jani said that he expected at least several arrests following the recent discovery that police at Tirana’s Rinas airport have been allowing up to 40 persons to fly out of the country daily with forged documents.

Observers note that security arrangements at Rinas are lax and that staff sometimes openly demand bribes from passengers.

Original article