Bogus Albanian asylum seeker jailed for 18 months in his absence after fleeing the UK
A bogus Albanian asylum seeker who conned his way into a job as an intelligence officer has been jailed for 18 months in his absence.
Elidon Habilaj, 35, of Victoria Road, South Woodford, was sentenced this morning in Snaresbrook Crown Court after being found guilty by a jury of fraudulently living in the UK.
The court heard how Habilaj pretended to be Bekim Ademi, a refugee from Kosovo, in 1998 when the Home Office had a policy of granting asylum to people fleeing the war-torn country.
The fraudster said his five front teeth were knocked out by Serbian police, his brother had been tortured to death and both his parents were dead, the court was told.
After being granted British citizenship and a passport, he gained a job with the Serious Organised Crime Agency’s fugitive location team in 2009.
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But he was exposed at the agency’s Vauxhall offices after he was caught checking his true identity profile at work.
Habilaj was found guilty of obtaining leave to enter or remain in the UK by deception and fraud.
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He was cleared of possession of an ID document with improper intention on the judge’s direction.
Jailing him for a total of 18 months, including three months for failing to answer bail, Judge Simon Wilkinson said: “He pretended to be a Kosovan and he was an Albanian who made up tales of atrocities to evoke sympathy.”
Prosecutor Christian Moll said Habilaj and his parents were born in Albania and “it would appear he never had a brother”.
Measures to trace and extradite Habilaj from Albania are now urgently being considered.
Defending Habilaj, Jonathan Black told jurors: “The defendant says he never gave any details which he knew or believed to be false with a view to obtain status in the UK.”