Albanian torture suspect jumps bail in UK

Ilir Kumbaro Mr Kumbaro was granted bail on appeal

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An ex-Albanian intelligence chief wanted on torture charges has jumped bail and gone missing in London.

The Metropolitan Police want to find Ilir Nazmi Kumbaro, 58, after he failed to turn up for an extradition hearing last week.

Detectives in the Metropolitan Police Service's extradition unit have now issued an appeal to find him.

The BBC understands the police and Crown Prosecution Service both opposed bail but it was granted on appeal.

Detective Superintendent Pete Rance, of the extradition unit, said: "We believe that Ilir Kumbaro has not fled the UK but has in all likelihood left London and is being harboured by friends.

"Although he does not pose a threat to members of the public, he is wanted in Albania where he faces charges of kidnap and torture. One of his alleged victims, a father-of-five, has not been seen alive since 1995."

Det Supt Rance said: "This is a high profile international investigation that has involved public expense in the UK. It is only right that we seek to arrest Ilir Kumbaro and put him back before the court that, in good faith, had entrusted him with bail."

The BBC understands bail was granted - and he was given an electronic tag - by the High Court following an appeal against an earlier decision to refuse bail for fear he would abscond.

Mr Kumbaro's fake passport Mr Kumbaro came to the UK using a passport with a false name

Mr Kumbaro claimed asylum in the UK in 1996 by posing as a Kosovan refugee, Shaqa Shatri.

He was later granted indefinite leave to remain, issued with a British passport and in 2009 the BBC discovered he had been living in a council flat in Fulham, west London while claiming social security benefits.

In September 2010 he was granted bail by Mr Justice Irwin, sitting at the High Court, after a hearing.

In his judgement he said: "Mr Kumbaro was at liberty and did not abscond between December 2009 and August of this year when he was rearrested."

He also said Mr Kumbaro was elderly, had health problems and "has an awful lot to lose by absconding from Britain".

Mr Justice Irwin then said: "It seems to me that the appropriate decision here is to grant bail but on more restrictive terms than those given by the District Judge."

'Balance of risk'

The judge described the alleged offences as "grave" but also said the criminal proceedings underlying the extradition case were "truly tortuous".

He added that the first warrant for Mr Kumbaro's arrest had to be withdrawn because of a "technical problem."

Mr Justice Irwin granted bail on condition that Mr Kumbaro live at an address in Fulham, surrender his passport, report to Fulham police station three times a week and put up a £10,000 security in the event of his disappearance.

He concluded: "It seems to me that the balance of risk here favours the grant of bail at the moment.

"If and when the difficulties in the Albanian proceedings or with the proceedings based on the Albanian warrant are resolved adverse to Mr Kumbaro, then the conditions on which I grant bail will have changed and at that point it is open to the prosecution to seek to readdress the point."

Mr Justice Irwin also commented in his judgment that the criminal proceedings underlying the extradition case were "truly tortuous" - the first warrant for Mr Kumbaro's arrest had to be withdrawn because of a "technical problem".

Mr Kumbaro is wanted in Albania for the following offences:

  • On or before 30 September 2005 unlawfully and by force took or carried away Avdyl Loshaj against his will.
  • On or before 18 October 1995 unlawfully and by force took or carried away Zison Kristopulli against his will.
  • On 21 October 1995 unlawfully and by force took or carried away Remzi Hoxha against his will.
  • Between 1 September 1995 and 30 November 1995 being a public official or person acting in an official capacity intentionally inflicted severe pain and suffering on Avdyl Loshaj.
  • Between 24 September 1995 and 17 October 1995 being a public official or person acting in an official capacity intentionally inflicted severe pain and suffering on Zison Kristopulli.
  • Between 21 October 1995 and 19 February 2003 being a public official or person acting in an official capacity intentionally inflicted severe pain and suffering on Remzi Hoxha.

Police are urging anyone with information about Mr Kumbaro to call the extradition unit on 020 7230 1640.

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