Albania's police chief has been suspended from his post while being investigated for the illegal use of wiretapping equipment, the prosecutor general's office said Tuesday.
The office said in a statement that Haki Cako is suspected of abuse of power, and the court has put two other senior officials under house arrest until the investigation is over.
Prosecutors started the probe after learning that police had been using wiretapping equipment that had entered the country "without proper authorization." They are also checking whether other senior officials are involved.
When Cako and Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri were asked by opposition lawmakers about the case, both said the equipment had been brought in by Italian police for training officers, not for wiretapping, and defended the three officials.
"The police director and the two other employees have not broken the law in any second of their work. They have done no wiretapping and nothing linked in any way to wiretapping," Tahiri said Tuesday.
Lulzim Basha, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, called on Prime Minister Edi Rama of the governing Socialist Party to dismiss Tahiri so justice officials can investigate him.
In a public apology to the Italian government, Rama called the prosecutors' move a "random political conspiracy" and an "absurd investigation."
Local Albania media reported that Italy had called back the head of its law enforcement mission who had been assisting Albanian police. The embassy's press office declined to confirm that.
Prosecutor General Adriatik Llalla has told the Italian ambassador in Tirana that the Italian mission is not under investigation.