A FOREIGN robber, who sexually assaulted one of his victims, has been allowed back on the streets in the UK after his native Albania let him off as part of an amnesty due to prison overcrowding.
It has led to fears that other fugitives from Albania, with similar serious convictions, could be left in the UK rather than being extradited if the amnesty is extended.
One man convicted of four violent robberies and a sex attack has already been spared.
Orient Hoxha, 22, is understood to be the first Albanian criminal to be spared extradition under the amnesty, after his proceedings at Westminster Magistrates' Court were withdrawn.
Albania spent several months trying to get Hoxha extradited from the UK to serve a prison sentence, with the case funded by taxpayers through legal aid.
But, it withdrew its extradition application at the eleventh hour.
Hoxha was convicted of robbing two couples who were climbing in the Korab mountains, and sexually assaulting one of the women, on July 29 2011, when he was just 14.
The charges involved him acting with two others to rob them of their backpacks and alpine sticks before the sexual assault.
SCENE: The attack took place on the Korab mountains in Albania (Wikipedia)
On May 15 2014, he was found guilty in his absence to the offences at the Tirana District Court and was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison.
The conviction was upheld despite an appeal in September 2015.
But, Hoxha fled to the UK before he could be jailed.
Hoxha was remanded in HMP High Down, in Surrey, during the extradition proceedings, but has now been released.
The amnesty is not expected to apply to more serious offences such as murder, but is done annually, meaning it could affect future cases.
A source with knowledge of the Albania legal system said: "They do the amnesty for less serious crimes and for prisoners who are on the end of a prison sentence due to overcrowding."
He said it would not mean Albania will stop extraditing people for more serious offences such as murder.
An Albanian Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "The Tirana District Court, by decision dated December 20 2019, decided to terminate the sentence imposed on this citizen by the decision subject to the request for extradition, for the purpose of granting amnesty."