Mistaken identity: Kosovan man wrongly accused of murder is discharged

In extradition proceedings, a Kosovan man, Hajdin Sadiku has been discharged at the magistrates court after he was wrongly accused of being Bib Nikja, a convicted murderer.

Mr. Sadiku was represented by Malcolm Hawkes. The Albanian government alleged that on 2 January 2001 Bib Nikja was in Shkodra, Albania where he shot and killed Ndoc Rroku and seriously injured Dode Nikja, his own cousin. Bib Nikja was tried and convicted in absentia and sentenced to 22 years imprisonment.

The prosecution case did not rely on any forensic evidence to support their case that Mr. Sadiku was living under a false identity in the UK. In fact, their case amounted to little more than an anonymous witness who claimed to have seen ‘Bib Nikja’ in the UK, secretly followed him home and then informed the Albanian authorities who then issued the extradition request.

Mr. Sadiku was able to adduce a wealth of evidence, supported by the Kosovan Embassy to the UK to confirm that he is a citizen of Kosovo, not Albania, has been lawfully resident in the UK for the past 21 years and has never been convicted of any offence.

Even so, the Albanian government refused to withdraw the case but did agree to carry out a DNA test on Bib Nikja’s brother which was then tested in the UK against Mr. Sadiku’s sample. That test did not match Mr. Sadiku and the Albanian government finally accepted that even on the lower ‘balance of probabilities’ test, it could not maintain its extradition request.

The discharge brought to an end a 6-month ordeal for Mr. Sadiku, who was arrested, then held in prison before being admitted to conditional bail and forced to wear an electronic tag and comply with an evening curfew. The case highlights the inherent injustice and unfairness which may arise in mistaken identity cases, particularly where there has been an in absentia conviction and little scrutiny of the strength of the evidence. Even though Albania is not part of the European Arrest Warrant scheme, it is still not required to present evidence of a case to answer as part of any extradition request to the UK.

In Albania v Nikja, Malcolm was instructed by Sean Caulfield of Hodge Jones and Allen solicitors.