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Albanian ‘drone-flyer’ fighting extradition to Serbia

Zagreb (AFP) – The Albanian who sparked a diplomatic crisis by flying a flag-draped drone at a Euro 2016 qualifier in Belgrade is fighting extradition to Serbia, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Ismail Morina, 35, was arrested in the Croatian coastal town of Dubrovnik in June after Serbia issued an arrest warrant for “provoking racial, national and religious hatred”.

During the October 2014 international between Serbia and Albania, a drone carrying a nationalist flag bearing a map of “Greater Albania” flew over the stadium in Belgrade forcing the game to be interrupted.

The incident escalated into a diplomatic row and highlighted the fragile ties between the two Balkan countries. 

“Greater Albania” is a plan of Albanian nationalists, never supported by elected officials, to group all Albanians, currently living in five Balkan states, into a single country.

If found guilty Morina faces up to five years in jail.

Since his arrest Morina has sought political asylum, his lawyer Darko Butigan told AFP.

Morina fears he would not have a fair trial in Serbia.

Croatia’s Supreme Court said Tuesday it had rejected Molina’s appeal to a Dubrovnik court ruling for his extradition to Serbia as unfounded, paving the way for the move.

The final decision rests with the justice minister.

Albanian President Ilir Meta on Wednesday met the Croatian ambassador in Tirana to express his “concerns” over the case.

Ties between Belgrade and Tirana have traditionally been frosty, especially since Kosovo, a former Serbian province populated by mostly ethnic Albanians, unilaterally declared independence in 2008.

Belgrade still does not recognise the move.

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