Beast from the East is our guest of the West

Beast from the East is our guest of the West

Feared … Kumbaro now and, right, when he was spy boss

A FORMER East European spy master living secretly in Britain and claiming thousands in benefits has won his appeal against extradition, The Sun can reveal.

Secret service boss Ilir Kumbaro, 56, is one of Eastern Europe’s most wanted men – said to have kidnapped and tortured three men in his Albanian homeland.

He fled to Britain in 1996 after falling out with officials there.

Albanian tourturer Ilir Kumbaro has been living illegally.

Refuge … flat where
Kumbaro is living

He used the alias Shaqa Shatri to claim asylum, convincing immigration officials he was a Kosovan fleeing Serb persecution.

The real Shaqa Shatri had his ID documents stolen in the former Communist nation’s capital Tirana in 1993. Kumbaro was granted indefinite leave to remain and was issued with a British passport.

He moved to a council estate – off London’s Fulham Road and close to Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground – with his wife and son.

It is understood he received jobseeker’s allowance and housing benefits, and has never worked throughout his 13-year double life in Britain.

He was also given incapacity benefits because of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Kumbaro’s secret life in London might have remained undiscovered had it not been for a foolish error. In order to claim incapacity benefit he had to register with Ealing, Hammersmith and Hounslow Health Authority.

But instead of registering under his assumed ID, Kumbaro used his real name. The registration was later cancelled, but it was enough to alert UK detectives.

Remzi Hoxha with his wife

‚Killed‘ .. Remzi Hoxha with wife

They had been hunting for Kumbaro following a request from the Albanian authorities in June 2008.

In September 2008, detectives from Scotland Yard’s extradition unit, led by Det Sgt Peter Rance, arrested Kumbaro at his flat in Fulham. When cautioned he said: „I am not Ilir Kumbaro, I am Shaqa Shatri.“ But his real identity was later confirmed and the Home Secretary granted extradition in April this year.

Judge Howard Riddle said at his extradition hearing: „It is evident that Mr Kumbaro was intent on avoiding prosecution by assuming, in an elaborate, careful and sustained way, a false identity.“

But High Court judges Lord Justice Dyson and Mr Justice Tugendhat have now halted the extradition. Sources in Albania say it is because the arrest warrant was invalid because too much time had elapsed since its issue in 2004.

A Home Office spokesman said: „The Albanian Supreme Court cancelled their arrest warrant because it was found to be invalid. The court here dismissed the extradition request as a result of this.“

Albanian officials applied for a new arrest warrant on December 14, before the appeal was heard.But that is expected to be dealt with separately.

 

Asked about possible re-arrest, the Home Office spokesman added: „It would be inappropriate to pre-empt any decision regarding deprivation of citizenship or deportation.

„The Government’s priority is to protect public safety. If someone has obtained citizenship by deception or has been convicted of a serious criminal offence the law allows citizenship to be removed.“

One of Kumbaro’s alleged victims, father-of-five Remzi Hoxha, has not been seen alive since 1995. His family fear he was tortured to death, and Kumbaro has been implicated. An international arrest warrant said Kumbaro „intentionally inflicted severe pain and suffering“ on Hoxha.

He was a businessman raising cash for the ethnic Albanian Kosovan separatist movement which was trying to break away from Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Mr Hoxha’s son Ardian said: „Our family wants all the necessary steps taken to ensure Kumbaro is extradited to Albania.“

 http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/

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Oliver Harvey/ The Sun | 29/12/2009