Albanian double murderer arrested in rape probe, court told


An Albanian double murderer has been arrested on suspicion of rape while he has been on the run in the UK for 18 years, a court has been told.

Avni Metra, 53, speaking through an interpreter at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court, refused to be extradited to Albania where he is wanted in connection with two murders and possession of firearms dating back to 1996.

His lawyer Helen Dawson told the court that he would be fighting the case on human rights grounds, arguing that he fears persecution and that he is now a family man who has "made a life here for the past 18 years" and has a "very close bond" with his four children.

Prosecutor Janine Hopkins said that Metra, who was arrested on Wednesday by the Metropolitan Police after a tip-off from the Daily Mail, is "on bail for rape, he has not been charged".

Ms Dawson later responded: "It has become apparent to me that there may be further grounds for him to remain in the UK on the grounds that he is facing a rape charge. I am instructed that he is not aware that he was on bail."

District Judge Sheila Bayane said: "That is worrying because he has conditions attached to his bail and it speaks volumes about his attitude to bail if that is the case."

The prosecution said that Metra had been wanted after failing to surrender to the Albanian authorities.

He was convicted in Albania in his absence.

The extradition request, which notes his right to a retrial, was submitted in 2008 but "has not been able to be actioned", Ms Hopkins said.

Metra has been using an alias since arriving in Britain while claiming to be a Kosovan, Ms Dawson said.

Metra, who has been working as a labourer, has been living in Borehamwood for the last six years and before that he lived in and around London.

Ms Dawson said Metra fears persecution and will fight the extradition attempt because of his "concerns" about his political affiliations along with the political situation.

She said he would be arguing against extradition on human rights grounds, claiming that he has a right to freedom of expression and to a family life.

The judge ordered Metra to next appear in custody at the same court on June 16 and for a preliminary hearing.

The extradition hearing was set for August 11.

She told Metra: "The allegations you face in Albania could not be more serious - two counts of murder and possession of firearms, on the face of it you are a fugitive from justice in Albania.

"You have been living in this country for many years and I have not heard a satisfactory explanation as to why that should be."

She also noted he had been arrested for alleged offences in the UK.