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THREE British men appear in court in connection with murder of businessman in Albania

THREE British men have appeared in court in connection with the murder of an Albanian businessman who was brutally shot dead inside his own coffee bar in an Albanian seaside resort.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) extradition unit arrested the men early on Saturday in the Bristol and Birmingham areas before they appeared in court in connection with the murder of Ardian Nikulaj, 51.

Mr Nikulaj was blasted when a masked gunman wearing a helmet and high-vis jacket entered the bar in Shëngjin on April 19 and fired a pistol.

Steven Hunt, 49, Thomas Mithan, 35, and Albanian/British Edmond Haxhia, 37, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' court yesterday to face extradition proceedings to Albania.

The court heard that the international arrest warrants allege that each of them "conspired with others to Murder Ardian Nikulaj by shooting him with a firearm six times, causing his death."

All three were remanded in custody to appear at the same court next month.

An NCA spokesman said: "On Saturday April 29, in the areas of Bristol and Birmingham, officers from the National Extradition Unit arrested three males wanted in Albania for conspiracy to commit murder. This offence took place on 19th April 2023.

"The Albanian authorities have expressed their thanks to the National Extradition Unit for locating and arresting the individuals sought."

Footage of the attack shows the suspect pull out the firearm then point it at Nikulaj’s head before opening fire as terrified customers and staff flee for cover.

The victim stood as a candidate for Albania’s Social Democratic Party in local council elections last year.

Albanian police confirmed after the hit they were seeking Four Brits - three men and one woman, for the murder, plus a British-Albanian joint national and a Portuguese national.

Detectives believe the killing team sped away from the scene using motorbikes and a 4x4 - which was captured on CCTV.

Police General Muhamet Rrumbullaku told Albanian media much evidence was found at the scene.

He said in a press conference: “After the event, a special investigation group was set up, with the aim of documenting and disclosing the authorship.

“Shell casings, firearms, telephone and some other biological evidence were found."

Mr Rrumbullaku added he was looking to charge the alleged perpetrators with "murder motivated by blood feud carried out in the form of a structured criminal group" and "unauthorized possession of explosive weapons and military ammunition".

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