One-legged Albanian murder suspect ‘gets UK citizenship… by pretending to be an asylum seeker fleeing from Kosovo’
- Saliman Barci is accused of a double murder in home country of Albania
- He gained UK citizenship by posing as a Kosovan refugee, a court heard
- Father-of-three is fighting extradition to Albania using human rights laws
A one-legged Albanian suspected of a double murder gained UK citizenship by posing as a Kosovan refugee, a court heard.
Saliman Barci, 40, is said to have fled to Britain after gunning down two men with a military rifle nearly 20 years ago.
The father-of-three is now wanted by Albanian authorities but is fighting extradition using human rights laws to claim his life is at risk from a deadly ‘blood feud’.
Barci, who has lived in the UK using a false identity for the past 14 years, also claims he faces torture in prison and ‘systematic judicial corruption’.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard he is accused of luring the two victims to their death in Albania in July 1997 with the promise of £340,000 in cash.
Barci claimed his nephew was later killed in a brutal revenge attack in a country where ‘honour is more important than life’.
But he escaped prosecution and fled to the UK in 2001, claiming asylum as a Kosovan refugee before eventually gaining British citizenship using the alias Samir Bashsa.
Although he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in jail in his absence in 2009, the conviction was quashed in 2013 following a number of appeals led by his mother and sister. The case has now been sent to Albania’s Appeal Court.
However, Albanian prosecutors say they have new evidence to mount a fresh criminal case and requested Barci’s extradition in July last year.
Daniel Sternberg, prosecuting on behalf of Albanian authorities, told magistrates: ‘The changes in Mr Barci’s life are irretrievably coloured by the fact that he has lived in the UK using a false identity for the past 14 years. Whilst Mr Barci claims this is because he was in fear for his life, it is equally consistent with his fleeing Albania to avoid prosecution.’
Mr Sternberg referred to a statement from Albanian officials which said defendants cite blood feuds in most cases where they claim they are facing persecution.
He also claimed there was ‘no direct evidence’ that Barci’s 2009 trial was affected by corruption. Barci’s legal team argues that extradition would be oppressive due to his numerous medical conditions.
Using a crutch to hobble to the witness stand, the Albanian told the court he had his left leg amputated 2cm under the knee in 1996 after a motorcycle crash.
He is now taking medications including beta blockers and statins after suffering what he claims was a ‘minor heart attack’ in custody in the UK – recorded as ‘minor chest pains’ by police. Barci, who lives in Northolt, west London, told magistrates: ‘Because it’s corruption they can kill me easy there [in Albania].’
He said he came to the UK because ‘I knew England [was] going to protect me and my family’.
When asked how he claimed asylum in Britain, he replied: ‘Like every Albanian, you said you were from Kosovo.’ The hearing continues.
Justice Secretary Michael Gove warned at the weekend that around one in 20 of the 10,000 foreign criminals in British jails is from Albania.
He said those prisoners cost taxpayers almost £18 million a year to keep in custody and warned that Britain will be forced to open its doors to potentially 88 million more people from Turkey and Balkan states such as Albania if it votes to stay in the EU.