Albanian drug lord to be deported as ‘threat to public safety’ outweighs his human rights

Neritan Kolludra, 40, was jailed for 14 years and four months in December 2019 for conspiracy to supply cocaine on a 'wholesale basis'
Neritan Kolludra, 40, was jailed for 14 years and four months in December 2019 for conspiracy to supply cocaine on a 'wholesale basis'

A jailed Albanian drug crime boss is to be deported after judges ruled his threat to public safety outweighed his human rights claim in a test case.

Neritan Kolludra, 40, the head of an Albanian organised crime group, was jailed for 14 years and four months in December 2019 for conspiracy to supply cocaine on a “wholesale basis”.

Ministers sought to deport him two years later but Kolludra – who had been granted permanent residence in the UK and had a wife and three children in the country – claimed it would be a breach of his right to a family under the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

However, in a judgment that could set a precedent for hundreds more prisoners facing deportation, two judges in the lower and upper immigration tribunals ruled that the impact of deportation on his family life was “outweighed by the serious risk of reoffending and the resulting risk to the public”.

He will serve the rest of his sentence in an Albanian jail. It follows the introduction of new laws to ease the deportation of foreign criminals aimed at tackling the overcrowding crisis in UK prisons.

Alex Chalk, the Justice Secretary, said: “Foreign criminals should serve their sentences overseas wherever possible – not in British prisons at taxpayers’ expense.

“Our new laws allow us to deport foreign prisoners earlier and the agreement signed with Albania significantly speeds up removals to that country.”

Dangerous prisoners transfer deal

Mr Chalk has struck a deal with Albania where it will take 200 of its most dangerous prisoners to serve their sentence at a fraction of the cost if they remained in the UK. He is also seeking similar deals with Poland and Romania.

The three countries account for almost a third of all foreign prisoners, who currently total 10,441, equivalent to 13 per cent of the total 89,000. They are costing the UK taxpayer £470 million a year to accommodate.

The transfer deal with Albania is among government measures to avoid running out of space in jails, including an early release scheme where jailed foreign offenders are deported 18 months before they are due to be freed. The Government also plans to deport and ban foreign shoplifters, thieves and drug dealers rather than prosecute them.

Kolludra entered the UK illegally in 1998 using a false name and nationality to claim asylum. It was rejected and he returned to Albania in 2005. But he subsequently demonstrated he had the right to remain as the husband of a Lithuanian national in the UK.

Despite being convicted of criminal offences which led to a failed attempt by the Government to deport him, Kolludra was granted a permanent residence card as the husband of an EEA national in 2011.

After being jailed for the drug offences in 2019 and facing deportation, he argued that he would be denied regular prison visits by his children and wife. He was also due to be transferred to an open prison, which would offer the chance to spend time with his family.

“Even if he was transferred on a ‘like for like’ basis, and was permitted to spend time on day release in Albania, his children would be in the UK and that would be of little value to the family,” his lawyers argued to the court.

However, the judges ruled his deportation was “proportionate” because of the seriousness of his offence and continued threat to public safety.