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Albanian drone-flying soccer fan seeks political asylum in Croatia!

Albanian Ismail Morina | Youtube snapshot

Albanian Ismail Morina, who was accused of flying a drone carrying a flag depicting a map of Greater Albania during a football match in Belgrade in 2014 is seeking political asylum in Croatia, sources said.

Darko Butigan, a lawyer for Ismail Morina told sources on Monday “I can confirm that my client applied for a political asylum in Croatia because he thinks he won’t get a fair trial in Serbia.”

After a court in Dubrovnik, Croatia, ruled in favor of Ismail’s extradition to Serbia last Thursday, Butigan appealed to Croatia's Supreme Court, which has no legal deadline by when it must decide on the appeal. According to sources, the Justice Minister then confirms Supreme Court’s decision.

“Usually, it takes the Supreme Court two to three months to decide on an appeal, but now the request for asylum will postpone the extradition to a period between six and ten months,” Butigan expected.

Croatian police in Dubrovnik detained Morina in June, acting on a Serbian arrest warrant, while he was heading to Italy where he has lived for years with his family.

On Saturday, Albanian football fans protested in front of the Albanian Prime Minister's office, urging the authorities to intervene to stop Morina's extradition to Serbia.

"Ismail Ballist Morina is a hero for Albanians, although, since the day he flew the drone he has been persecuted by the courts," Albanian "Red and Black" fans wrote on Facebook, inviting people to join their protest.

The charge that Serbia has launched against him and which can lead up to eight years in prison is inciting criminal acts between nations, Butigan told Albania's Top Channel TV on Saturday.

Albania's Justice Ministry on Friday asked its Croatian counterpart to suspend the request for extradition in Serbia, seeing it at odds with European conventions on extradition and human rights.

On Sunday, the Albanian Football Federation announced that, together with Prime Minister Edi Rama, it was appealing to the Croatian authorities to stop the extradition.