THE COURTS will re-open the trial of Baki Sadiki, a Kosovar Albanian living in Slovakia, as the Prešov Regional Court cancelled the original verdict sentencing him to 22 years in prison for drug trafficking in a closed session on September 3.
“The regional court in Prešov annulled the ruling of Prešov District Court vis-à-vis the re-opening of the proceeding with Baki Sadiki on the grounds that the district court used an incorrect procedural regulation,” spokesperson of the Prešov Regional Court Michal Drimák told the TASR newswire, referring to the question over whether Sadiki could legitimately be tried due to his absence or unawareness of the proceedings.
Drimák added that the district court in Prešov will continue the proceeding based on the original indictment.
Yet, Drimák on September 6 also said that the regional court overrode the verdict of the lower instance court due to the condition set by Kosovo that the Slovak side would ensure a new trial for Sadiki. Yet, the Albanian citizen requested a new trial shortly after his arrival in Slovakia, the SITA newswire reported.
Drimák, as quoted by SITA, pointed to provisions of the Penal Order, based on which if a state extradites a person under certain terms, those terms must be met.
However, the Justice Ministry responded on September 9 that it is not true that Kosovo extradited the convicted person with the condition of the right to a new trial.
Kosovo was never given the guarantee of a new trial, the ministry said, adding that the Kosovo side has only been informed that based on the law the extradited person is entitled to request a new trial.
Yet, Kosovo has extradited the person, according to the ministry, under the condition of fulfilling the rule of specialty [note: which prohibits a person from being tried for any offence committed prior to his surrender other than that for which he was extradited], the guarantee that a higher sentence will not be imposed on the extradited person than the one that is the subject of the proceeding, and that the person cannot be extradited to so-called third countries without Kosovo’s agreement, spokesperson of the ministry Jana Zlatohlávková wrote in a release published by SITA.
Justice Minister Tomáš Borec considers it important that Sadiki remain in custody, despite the cancellation of the verdict, according to the release. Since the court decision is not yet available in written form, the ministry’s stance is not definite, TASR reported.
Sadiki was one of three men accused in a particularly serious case of illegal production, possession and trading in narcotics and smuggling heroin from Turkey to Slovakia hidden in imported beach sandals, the Sme daily wrote. He was sentenced in absentia to a 22-year imprisonment by the Prešov District Court in June 2011.
Sadiki was missing until October 2012, when he was detained in Kosovo and extradited to Slovakia in December, where he began serving his sentence.
After being transported to Slovakia, Sadiki claimed that he was unaware of his conviction and requested that it be re-examined. Sadiki told the court on May 30 that since January 2010 he had been living in Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo and did not know about the prosecution against him, nor about his sentencing, and insisted he learned of this only after he was detained in Kosovo.
Nobody in Slovakia doubts that Sadiki was avoiding criminal prosecution and hiding abroad, head of the movement New Majority - Agreement Daniel Lipšic, a former interior minister, told the press.
“It is hard to believe that he went to Kosovo to explore [its] natural beauties or local cuisine,” Lipšic said, as quoted by TASR. He went on to say that Sadiki’s argument that he had not been in Slovakia for several years and had not known about the prosecution and the verdict, and was participating in spiritual exercises around the world, is absurd. “Nobody in Slovakia, except for the Prešov Regional Court, believes this,” Lipšic said.