Wanted Albanian killer who tricked way into UK claiming to be Kosovan refugee is finally extradited


ONE of Albania's most wanted men has finally been extradited from the UK, nearly a year after a judge ordered his removal and 23 years after he first went on the run, claiming to be a Kosovan refugee.

Defrim Iseberi, 47, (above) was number two on an Albanian Police "top 10" list of most wanted fugitives thought to be in hiding in the UK until he was captured by the Met Police in January 2020 following a lengthy manhunt.

A year later a judge ordered his extradition, following a hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court, but Iseberi appealed to the High Court, delaying his removal by aother ten months.

He had fled his homeland after gunning down a security guard at the Gjallica Hotel in the lakeside city of Kukës, Albania, on October 16, 1997. His victim died in hospital several months later.

Iseberi fled to Britain using the false name Agim Mema and went on to claim asylum in the UK as a bogus Kosovan, claiming to be fleeing the war. He is also understood to have applied for a British passport and claimed benefits.

In 2000 he was sentenced in Albania to 20 years in jail in his absence.

Despite disappearing in 1997, an Interpol red notice was not issued until 2004.

A warrant for his arrest in Britain was not issued until six years later in 2010.

In February 2013 police appealed for information about his whereabouts on the BBC1 Crimewatch programme and he was finally caught last year.

The shooting happened on October 15 1997, when Iseberi, then aged 24, and three friends spent an afternoon and evening drinking in the town of Kukes, Albania.

At 23.30 hrs, Iseberi and two of his friends visited the Gjalica Hotel where they asked the receptionist for a free hotel room.

An argument ensued. The hotel guard, Dritan Murtati intervened and asked Iseberi and his friends to leave.

They ignored him, so the guard loaded an automatic submachinegun that he possessed with permission and asked them to leave again.

They left, but then approached the guard, who fired into the air.

Iseberi and one of his friends left, but another remained and tried to grab hold of the gun and pulled the trigger which let off a shot.

....wrote in his judgement, which ordered the extradityion: "At 2.15 a.m. on October 16 1997, Iseberi returned to the hotel and shot repeatedly Dritan Murtati with an

automatic submachinegun of 7.62 mm calibre (and a different firearm to the one possessed by the hotel).

"He suffered very serious, life-threatening injuries and a permanent disability.

"After a few months, he died of a secondary infection which could not be excluded as a possible cause of death."

Sixteen witnesses gave evidence during the Albanian criminal trial, including Mr Murtati, who identified Iseberi as present at the scene of the crime and as the person

who shot him, in statements befoe he died.

"He also explained that Iseberi with his cousins had previously beaten his brother.

"There was evidence from Dritan Murtati’s brother (and another witness) as to the previous attack and gave evidence that Iseberi's father had sent a message to

the victim’s house to declare his son’s responsibility for the attack.

"There was scientific and forensic evidence from the scene including ballistics evidence.

"The court of first instance found that the motive was revenge.

"The appellate court found it was because of “threat toIseberi’s pride”.

He was convicted of attempted murder as the forensic expert could not exclude the possibility that a secondary infection was the ultimate cause of death.

Iseberi got 20 years in prison after the initial conviction at Kukes District Court on May 23 2004 for the commission of the criminal offences “premeditated attempted murder” and “illegal possession of military weapons and ammunition.”

However, after a retrial, the Kukes District Court on November 11 2015 ruled that Iseberl was guilty of the commission of criminal offences of “premeditated attempted murder” and “illegal possession of military weapons” and was sentenced to a term of ten years of imprisonment.

The Appeal Court of Shkoder on November 24 2016 found that the offence was one of intended, not premeditated, attempted murder and reduced the sentence to eight years imprisonment.