Elidon Habilaj arrived in Britain in 1998 from Albania, and claimed he was a Kosovan named Bekim Ademi. He said his brother had been tortured to death and his father killed by the Kosovan Liberation Army.
British authorities believed him, and he was granted full asylum in November 2001, and citizenship five years later.
He was hired by the Metropolitan Police and later Soca, where he worked as an intelligence officer in its London-based ‘fugitive location team’, helping to find suspected criminals wanted for extradition. He was finally unmasked after checking his own file on a work database of people of interest. Habilaj even called up a photo of himself on his computer screen in front of his boss.
Belated checks revealed that he had been born in Albania rather than Kosovo, he never had a brother, and his father was alive and still living in his home town. After he absconded before his trial, Judge Martyn Zeidman QC issued a bench warrant, which instructs police to arrest Habilaj if he is traced. The warrants remain live and legally in force until the suspect is caught or voluntarily returns to face justice.
Habilaj was subsequently tried in his absence and jailed at Snaresbrook Crown Court in January 2013 after being convicted of obtaining leave to enter or remain in the UK by deception and fraud.
The sentencing judge Simon Wilkinson said: ‘He pretended to be a Kosovan and he was an Albanian who made up tales of atrocities to evoke sympathy.’
But he has successfully evaded British authorities, and this week we found him overseeing building work on a hotel he manages on the outskirts of Vlore.
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