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One-legged Albanian murderer who posed as a Kosovan refugee to gain UK citizenship and got a four-bed house and £2k-a-month benefits while dealing cocaine wins legal aid to fight to stay here… Is this proof Britain has lost its marbles?
- Double killer Saliman Barci, 41, gets legal aid fighting extradition from UK
- Fighting request to be returned to Albania to serve 25-year prison sentence
- Estranged Albanian wife claims he confessed to her on night of the killings
A one-legged Albanian double killer has been granted legal aid to fight extradition from Britain — even though he has allegedly confessed to the murders, it emerged last night.
Saliman Barci, 41, claims he is innocent and is using human rights laws in a desperate bid to avoid being sent back to his homeland, where he has been convicted of murdering two men.
He has spent nearly a year in custody at an immigration removal centre battling a request to be returned to the poverty-stricken country to serve a 25-year sentence.
But last night, his taxpayer-funded extradition battle descended into farce after his estranged Albanian wife said he had confessed to her on the night of the killings.
And, in further revelations, she claimed he had committed other murders in Albania and is one of the most feared men among his fellow countrymen living in the UK, where he has enjoyed an enviable lifestyle on benefits.
The Mail can also reveal today that according to his wife:
- The couple were smuggled into the UK in a van from Calais. They posed as Kosovan refugees to gain British citizenship and have lived rent free in a £560-a-month lavishly furnished four-bedroom housing association house.
- Barci has enjoyed nearly £2,000 a month in benefits while previously making huge sums from selling cocaine in London. The average wage in Albania is £250 a month.
- He has never worked and has an NHS prosthetic leg to replace the wooden one he had in Albania.
- He has been awarded legal aid to fight extradition, but his already hefty defence costs could soar if the legal battle ends up at the European Court of Human Rights.
- He always carried a knife and kept a pistol at his West London home.
It was at an extradition hearing in London earlier this month that details of Barci’s incredible case first emerged. Westminster magistrates’ court heard that in 2009 he was convicted in his absence of murdering the two men in the city of Burrel, in northern Albania, in July 1997.
According to Albanian court papers, a trio of gangsters carried out a robbery worth six million Lek (about £34,000), but Barci wanted to keep all the money and shot his friends after drinking and watching a ‘violent and bloody’ movie with them. But he escaped prosecution and fled to the UK in 2002, arriving in the UK via Calais, later claiming asylum as a Kosovan refugee before eventually gaining British citizenship.
We came here to start a new life together after the murders. We came from Calais in a big van. After that we went to Croydon to claim asylum.
– Barci’s wife Mimoza Barci, 40
When asked how he managed to obtain asylum in Britain, he replied: ‘Like every Albanian, you said you were from Kosovo.’
The Home Office has suspected for years that many Kosovan arrivals in Britain were not refugees fleeing the Balkans war in 1999 but economic migrants from neighbouring Albania with fake Kosovar identities.
Yesterday Barci’s wife Mimoza Barci, 40 — who says their marriage is over — gave her version of events.
She said the killer — he lost his leg just below the knee in a 1996 motorcycle crash — abandoned her and their young child within a few weeks of the murders and fled to Italy to ‘hide’. He later spent some time in Germany.
By 2002, the family were reunited and Barci came up with the idea of coming to the UK as Kosovans.
She said: ‘We came here to start a new life together after the murders. We came from Calais in a big van. After that we went to Croydon to claim asylum.
Left behind: The apartment block in the Albanian city of Burrel where Barci and one of the murder victims lived
New life: Barci’s wife Mimoza Barci showing off the family’s four-bed housing association house. They posed as Kosovan refugees to gain British citizenship and have lived rent free in the £560-a-month property.
‘Then we went to a hotel in Finsbury Park. We stayed there for seven days. Then we learned everything about being Kosovan refugees while we stayed one week with his friend in Oxford.’
The mother-of-three said the Home Office was ‘silly’ for believing their lies but stressed her priority was the safety of her son and she was ‘too scared’ to leave her husband.
‘After that we went to Aylesbury to take a house from the council there,’ she said. ‘In Aylesbury he wanted to shoot someone with a gun. I later found the gun. It was a pistol from Albania.
‘He always carried a knife around with him at night and was scared of the police because he was wanted for the murders.’
In Albania he did other things after he murdered the two persons. He burned and killed other people. It was a very dangerous place [in 1997] because there were guns everywhere.
– Barci’s wife Mimoza Barci, 40
Mrs Barci said that after the killer got in trouble in Buckinghamshire, they moved to London three years ago. ‘We did a home swap,’ she said. ‘We wanted to move quickly because every day he went out to Aylesbury with a gun.
‘He is not a calm person. He has never worked in the UK. When he was outside with other people he had lots of power. When with us at home he was always sick and lazy.’
She said she had known hours after the murders her ‘crazy’ husband was guilty. She believes he killed the men in a fit of jealousy, as he believed they had been ‘talking’ to her.
Recalling the night of the murders, she said: ‘He did the things [the killings], and after he did the things he came into the house and was very sweaty and dangerous. He told me about killing the persons. He took me and my son down to his brother’s house for safety in case another family came to hurt us.’
She said at first ‘he was not sure if he killed one person or two persons because he shot one man as he was running’. ‘In the morning, they found the body,’ she added.
‘In Albania he did other things after he murdered the two persons. He burned and killed other people. It was a very dangerous place [in 1997] because there were guns everywhere.’
It’s all a far cry from their taxpayer-funded life in West London.
The neat, modern housing association house has wooden floors, chrome-framed furniture, a huge corner sofa and a large wall-mounted TV.
Outside there is a patio with a garden swing seat and a big satellite dish to receive international television channels.
Mrs Barci said her husband claimed £220 disability allowance per month, £320 income support per fortnight, £100 a week in child tax credits and £30 per week child benefit.
On top of this, she said, he received ‘lots of money’ from drugs deals.
Worry: Barci’s wife Mimoza (pictured) said she had known hours after the murders her ‘crazy’ husband was guilty. She believes he killed the men in a fit of jealousy, as he believed they had been ‘talking’ to her.
But after a domestic disturbance in June last year police were called to the house. Officers took Barci’s finger prints and they were matched to the fugitive double killer.
The former Communist country made a formal application for him to be extradited to serve the 25-year prison sentence which had been handed out to him, in his absence, in 2009.
Today Barci says he is too ill to be sent back to Albania, after allegedly suffering a minor heart attack while in custody (an incident recorded by police as merely ‘chest pains’).
He also alleges he will be murdered in prison because of a ‘blood feud’ and that the judicial system there is corrupt.
In Albania, state prosecutor Sabri Kastrati, who brought the 2009 case, said: ‘Barci was considered one of the most dangerous men in Burrel and we were afraid of him. We knew he was in the UK because he stayed in touch with his family.
‘We asked for his arrest and deportation but nothing happened so the trial continued in his absence and he was convicted and sentenced to 25 years.’
Barci should not have human rights, how can you possibly take into account the human rights of a murderer? I just want him to be in prison.
– Lindita Patushi, 42, the widow of murdered husband Perparim Ibrahimi
He described Barci as a ‘very powerful figure in the UK’. ‘Honest people in the Albanian community are scared of him,’ he added.
‘I was very certain Barci was the killer of the two men. I am responsible for this statement in front of God and in front of law. The only debt Barci has is to law and I believe it is time for him to face justice.’
Lindita Patushi, 42, who has never remarried after the murder of her husband Perparim Ibrahimi, said: ‘He should be punished for what he did.
‘In 2002 I lost a claim for political asylum in the UK. I wonder how it was possible that a widow with a young son could be refused asylum in the UK and sent back here. Instead the British government wanted to give asylum to
‘Barci should not have human rights, how can you possibly take into account the human rights of a murderer? I just want him to be in prison.’
Ylli Manjani, Minister of Justice in Albania, said of Barci: ‘He remains convicted. Otherwise we could not ask for him to be extradited. He should come back. He has committed crimes, murders.
‘He has been put on trial, judged and sentenced. Now he has to come back and suffer the sentence. I don’t think Mr Barci should get any kind of immunity just because he lives in the UK. He is using untrue information in court [to avoid extradition].’
Barci’s sister Elisabeta Stafhasani, 49, said: ‘When he got to the UK, he was housed in a refugee camp and applied for asylum. He claimed to be Kosovan. He used a different name to get into the UK. So many people from our city Burrel were in the UK and he was afraid of them.
‘My brother was grateful to the Queen and the British state for him giving him and his family a free home, free education, free health treatment and state benefits. He is a caring man, and has integrated into British life.
‘Two of his children have been born in the UK and he feels part of Britain. He feels very satisfied with the education his children have received in the UK.’
Speaking in Tirana, Mrs Stafhasani, who is campaigning to clear her brother, went on: ‘But now, following the extradition case he is very upset and very depressed. They are trying to get someone to take the blame for these murders. He is so scared to come back. He would probably be dead now if he was in Albania.
‘Here he had a wooden leg but in the UK he has had a prosthetic leg fitted, which is much more comfortable and can make him walk more easily.’
Barci’s claims his proposed extradition is in breach of Articles 2 (Right to Life), 3 (Ban on torture), and 8 (Respect for family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, objecting to prison conditions, ‘systematic judicial corruption’, and the risk to his life due to a ‘blood feud’ in Albania.
The Home Office said in a statement: ‘Saliman Barci is the subject of an extradition request from Albania. His extradition hearing before the District Judge has taken place and judgment has been reserved until July 1.’