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EXCLUSIVE: Albanian national who came to UK in back of lorry facing people smuggling charges

AN ALBANIAN, who illegally came to the UK hidden in a lorry, is facing extradition to Belgium to face four charges of people smuggling.

A European Arrest Warrant alleges that Naim Hilaj, 51, was part of a criminal organisation that smuggled people into the UK from Belgium in 2018 and 2019.

Hilaj, from Normandy Avenue, Barnet, north London, faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted of the offences in Belgium.

At a Westminster Magistrates' Court hearing, Hilaj argued he should not be extradited because it would breach his human rights to a family life in the UK.

The court heard he entered the UK illegally in 2015 and has been working illegally as a welder, sending between £1,000 and £1,200 back to relatives in Albania a month.

District Judge Tanweer Ikram said in his judgement: "His wife and family are in Albania. He has no right to work in the UK, but is working illegally as a welder.

"He entered the UK illegally in the back of a lorry. He argues his right to a private and family life. He has, however, no right to be here at all.

"While not a fugitive, any delay in these matters being dealt with, is due to his whereabouts not being known by the Belgian authorities.

"The reality is he has no family here and cannot claim a right to a family life.

"I am therefore satisfied that it is proportionate and necessary for me to order the extradition of the requested person to Belgium."

Hilaj has lodged an appeal against extradition to the High Court.

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