TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian police on Thursday arrested two lawmakers accused of giving false testimony over claims that the parliament speaker was behind an alleged assassination plot to kill two deputies.
The arrests came after lawmakers voted to lift the immunity from prosecution of former Socialist Tom Doshi and Christian Democrat Mark Frroku.
Local television broadcast footage of police cars taking the two, one from his home and the other from his office in the capital Tirana.
Doshi was expelled from the governing Socialists three weeks ago after claiming Parliament speaker Ilir Meta, a former prime minister, had paid 600,000 euros ($656,000) to have him and an opposition Democratic Party lawmaker killed. He has given no explanation for what Meta's motives might have been. Meta has strenuously denied the allegation.
Doshi had claimed that Frroku had first told him about the alleged plot. Frroku denies making any such claim.
The two lawmakers were formally accused of false testimony after a probe found no evidence of an assassination plot. They face up to five years in prison if convicted.
Eighty of Parliament's 140 lawmakers voted to allow the prosecution of Doshi, while the vote for lifting the immunity of Frroku was 79 to one abstention. Sixty lawmakers, all but four of them from opposition parties, were absent.
Speaking at a Parliamentary commission meeting Wednesday night, Doshi described the prosecution request against him as politically motivated.
Prosecutors say that Durim Bami, who Doshi said was the assassin, has since claimed that Doshi and Frroku paid him and pressured him to make a false allegation about the assassination plot.
Forty of the main opposition Democratic Party's 41 lawmakers walked out of parliament before the vote, with the party saying it did not want "to be part of the farce," despite previously voicing support for the request to lift immunity for the two.
"The investigation cannot be trusted as long as the speaker maintains his post," said Democrat Eduard Halimi. The party has called for Meta to be removed from his post so he can be questioned again.