The British and Albanian governments face some embarrassing questions after it emerged that a gangster was killed in Tirana this week despite being jailed in London in 2008 for a minimum of 34 years.
An Albanian television station, Vizion Plus, reported that Hekuran Billa, 40, was gunned down at the rental car business he owned.
In October 2006 Billa - using the false name Herland Bilali - gunned down Prel Marku, a 22-year-old bricklayer in an Albanian social club in Park Royal, west London.
— Roland BEQIRAJ (@RolandBeqiraj) June 11, 2020
It was reported at the time that Marku was killed by mistake and the intended target was Petrit Brahoj, 31, who survived. Billa and Brahoj were reportedly partners in a gang which stole £10,000 a night from parking meters in central London.
Billa fled to Denmark but was extradited and in 2008 he was jailed for life and told he must serve a minimum of 34 years in prison.
Why Was He Sent Back To Albanian Jail?
Sputnik has learned that in 2016 the British government agreed, under a Prisoner Transfer Agreement a deal for him to serve out the remainder of his sentence in an Albanian jail.
But Vizion Plus reported that Billa was "released from prison a year ago in our country, in unexplained circumstances."
A source has told Sputnik they believed he walked free after bribing an Albanian official and that this form of corruption was common in Albania.
Under the Prisoner Transfer Agreement inmates can only be released with agreement of the UK government, which was not even informed of Billa's release.
Billa, who is from the town of Kukës close to the border with Kosovo, moved to Tirana when he was released from prison and began a car rental business.
Assassin Sought By Albanian Police
Vizion Plus said he was gunned down by an unknown assassin as he sat in a BMW car this week and Albanian detectives are trawling CCTV footage in an attempt to find a clue. The killer’s getaway car, a Mercedes, was later found burnt out.
Before Billa went on trial another man - Kutjim Spahiu - went on trial and was jailed for life. He was given a life sentence and a minimum term of 33 years.
Unlike Billa he was not sent back to Albania and is still in Whitemoor prison in Cambridgeshire.
Spahiu, who was convicted under the law of joint enterprise, continues to protest his innocence. He was not the gunman.
Albanian Criminals Who Use Fake Names
Billa is not the first Albanian criminal to carry out murders in Britain while living under a fake name.
In March last year Mane Driza was jailed for life for a 1999 murder in London. Driza - who had claimed to be a Kosovan called Sokol Drenova - fled to Italy and then Albania after killing a man called Bledar Mone in north west London.
Driza, who was nicknamed Tony Montana after the character in the movie Scarface, carried out four further murders in Italy and Albania.
After his conviction he was sent back to jail in Italy and at the end of his sentence he is due to be sent back to Britain to serve the remainder of his life sentence.
Sputnik has contacted the Ministry of Justice to find out why Billa was sent back to Albania to serve his sentence and whether they were aware he had been allowed out. They have not responded yet.