EXCLUSIVE: 'YOU GOT THE WRONG MAN' Kosovan refugee is convicted Albanian killer on run in UK
A CONVICTED Albanian killer, who claimed the authorities had got the wrong man during years of legal battles to get him home to face justice, could finally be extradited.
Leke Prendi, 39, came to the UK claiming to be a Kosovan refugee under the name Aleks Kola, which he was still using, when he was arrested on suspicion of an assault in July 2013.
Police found his fingerprints were a match for a man wanted by Interpol for the shooting dead on April 10 2000 of accomplice Gjovalin Prendi during a botched 11pm armed robbery of a bus full of 22 clerics near Kukes in Albania.
'NOT ME' A recent police image of Prendi provided in expert report saying it was Kola
Both Prendis were in a gang of five masked robbers who were looting the bus when Leke Prendi's gun accidentally went off killing the other.
He escaped capture, but was sentenced, in December 2000 in his absence in Albania, to 21 years in prison for murder by carelessness and illegal possession of a firearm.
LONG: Prendi commissioned lengthy ID report to show he was not wanted man but it did not convince judge
In 2014 a judge at Westminster Magistrates' Court said he could be extradited, but in June 2015 he won a High Court bid to block the extradition.
His appeal was amid claims he was 5ft 6, but the Prendi sought by Interpol was said to be 5ft 10in, and the wanted man's image did not look "anything like him."
DISPUTED: Prendi in the controversial Interpol wanted image (Interpol)
Prendi was arrested again last year after Albanian authorities issued a new arrest warrant after obtaining more fingerprint evidence from Italy where he admitted he had also used the alias Nikolin Pacini.
Following a second extradition hearing at Westminster, Judge Tan Ikram ruled that Aleks Kola and Leke Prendi were the same person and he should be extradited.
In his judgement he wrote: "I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that there is sufficient evidence of the provenance of the various prints that have been compared. They are independent of each other. That information was not available to the High Court when it previously discharged the defendant.
'IT'S ME' Images of Prendi in police mugshots from 2001 placed in the ID report by Raymond Evans
"I find that Aleks Kola is an alias and he is Leke Prendi, the person wanted."
The case was sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel for a final decision on his extradition and has yet to be determined.
He could also appeal again to the High Court.