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10 Jul 2015

INTERPOL got the Wrong Man: Edward Grange’s comments published in New Law Journal

INTERPOL got the Wrong Man

A man wanted by INTERPOL has escaped extradition to Albania after establishing a case of mistaken identity.

Leke Prendi was convicted in his absence and sentenced to 21 years for ambushing and robbing a bus full of clerics returning from pilgrimage in Albania. One man was killed.

An INTERPOL red notice was issued in 2005, giving Prendi’s date of birth and height—168cm tall—and including a poor quality photograph. In 2007, INTERPOL issued an addendum with a copy of Prendi’s fingerprints, but without any accompanying statement on where the fingerprints came from.

A man thought to be Prendi was arrested in the UK after a fingerprints expert found a match. The suspect claimed his name was Aleks Kola. He gave a different date of birth from Prendi’s and was 179cm tall.

District Judge Coleman determined, on the balance of probabilities, that Kola was, in fact, Prendi. Although they were different heights, DJ Coleman said the man was “not unlike” the man in the photo, and noted the coincidence that Kola had the same surname as one of Prendi’s co-accused.

At appeal, in Leke Prendi aka Aleks Kola v Government of Albania [2015] EWHC 1809 (Admin), Kola’s lawyers argued that the red notice was not duly authenticated and the fingerprint evidence was third or remoter hearsay and therefore neither of these should have been admissible evidence. The circumstances in which Prendi’s fingerprints had been obtained remained unexplained, and the local prosecutor had twice stated that no photos or fingerprints of Prendi were available.

Lord Justice Aikens held that “whoever made up the red notice could not speak to the truth of any of the facts directly” since they all came from sources other than INTERPOL Tirana. Aleks Kola was free to go.

Edward Grange, partner at Corker Binning, a specialist in extradition, says: “In any case under Pt 2 of the Extradition Act 2003 where identity is disputed, it is important for practitioners to consider carefully the basis upon which the requesting state seeks to adduce evidence as to identity. Practitioners should apply English rules of evidence to challenge unauthenticated documents from the requesting state that seek to establish the requested person’s identity.”


Read the original article here.