In the Media

Albanian former spy chief at large after missing extradition hearing

PUBLISHED December 7, 2011

Police seek Ilir Kumbaro, who is wanted on kidnap and torture charges in his native country

A former Albanian intelligence chief is on the run in Britain after failing to attend an extradition hearing in London for alleged kidnap and torture of three men in his country.

Ilir Kumbaro, 58, a former director of the national intelligence service in Tirana, claimed asylum in 1996 after posing as a Kosovan refugee fleeing Serbian persecution and giving a false name. He was granted indefinite leave to remain and given a British passport.

Scotland Yard does not believe he poses a danger to the public. Det Supt Pete Rance said: "We believe that Ilir Kumbaro has not fled the UK but has in all likelihood left London and is being harboured by friends.

"Although he does not pose a threat to members of the public, he is wanted in Albania where he faces charges of kidnap and torture. One of his alleged victims, a father of five, has not been seen alive since 1995.

"The seriousness of his alleged crimes is the reason we want to find him. This is a high-profile international investigation that has involved public expense in the UK.

"It is only right that we seek to arrest Ilir Kumbaro and put him back before the court that, in good faith, had entrusted him with bail."

Kumbaro has previously spent a period in prison during a long extradition process. A previous attempt by the Albanian authorities to extradite him under an international arrest warrant failed but a new warrant was issued and he was arrested in Forest Hill, south London, last year. Kumbaro was on bail after associates put up ?10,000.

For years, he lived in a Fulham council flat with his wife and son as Shaqa Shatri. He was on incapacity benefit after saying he suffered depression and post-traumatic stress.

His true identity was only discovered in 2008, when he accidentally gave his real name while again trying to claim incapacity benefit for depression.

He was arrested for the second time in Forest Hill, south London, last year. Kumbaro was due to appear at a hearing in Westminster last week. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds