Aah the joys of diversity.
More than 100 dangerous Albanian criminals could be in hiding in the UK, some of them in London it is thought, according to a secret dossier sent to the Scotland Yard by police in the country's capital, Tirana.
The head of Interpol there said most of the fugitives are wanted for murder.
One of those in hiding was Marash Gjoka, who claimed asylum in the UK pretending to be a refugee from war-torn Kosovo.
BBC London has learned that the 48-year-old Albanian national lived in Catford, south east London, with his wife and two teenage sons for more than 10 years, under the assumed name of Mark Toma.
To his neighbours he was a quiet, family man who helped them with odd jobs around the house.
What they did not know is that Gjoka, one of Albania's most wanted criminals, is accused of shooting dead Tonin Doshi, 33-year-old farmer in May 1999.
After an apparent dispute over a piece of land, Gjoka is said to have shot him in the town of Lezhe, northern Albania.
Soon afterwards he fled to Britain claiming asylum and settled in London.
In his absence he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
At an extradition hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday a district judge ruled that Gjoka should be sent back to Albania to face justice.
The case will now be referred to the Home Secretary Theresa May for a final decision.
A CCTV camera captured Gjoka on a bus with his wife Scotland Yard's specialist Extradition Unit arrested Gjoka in January this year after a four month investigation.
They tracked him down after CCTV footage showed him with his wife, Drande, on a bus in Catford High Street, police said.
Detectives trailed Mrs Gjoka who inadvertently led them to her husband when they met up to do some shopping.
When police officers had originally visited the family home in Catford, Mrs Gjoka said her husband had been killed in Albania 10 years earlier.
Det Supt Murray Duffin, the head of the Met's Extradition Unit, said they did not believe her.
"She told them (local police) her husband had been murdered back in Albania," he said.
"She was nervous. She was unsure about the dates. They weren't happy with her story at all and then referred the case to us and we took it on from there."
'Shot in the air'
After carrying out extensive intelligence checks, officers located CCTV footage of Gjoka, first at a supermarket and then on the bus with his wife.
Pashke Doshi, the mother of Gjoka's victim is still grieving.
"My son has been killed," she told BBC London.
"What do you think I feel, when they kill your 30-something-year-old son? And he did not do anything.
Gjoka was convicted of killing Tonin Doshi in May 1999 in northern Albania "If he had done something, then so be it! He (the killer) killed him and then shot in the air in triumph after he killed my son," she claimed.
Albanian police have made a list of more than 100 criminals who they believe are hiding in Britain, many of whom have known links to London.
Pellumb Seferi, the head of Interpol in Tirana, said: "From our intelligence we think that there are more than 100 criminals from Albania who are currently living in the UK.
"They are wanted at international level for serious crime - for murder, attempted homicide, prostitution and drugs."
Earlier this year, senior detectives from the Met's Extradition Unit visited Tirana to discuss the dossier.
Scotland Yard disputes the exact number of Albanian fugitives on the run in the capital but admits there maybe many like Gjoka who are still living here under false identities.
"Some of those people continue to pose a danger while they're in London," Det Supt Duffin said.
"Some of those people will lie low. It's certainly the case that some of them have the potential to commit violent offences and those are the ones who we will always be looking for first."
Saturday, 4 June 2011
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