Croatia court overturns extradition of Albanian soccer fan

Youtube snapshot

Croatia's Supreme Court has overturned a decision to extradite an Albanian soccer fan to Serbia where he is wanted for allegedly flying a drone with a nationalist banner during a match.

According to a statement released on Friday, the proceedings must be repeated because the initial ruling was incomplete. Ismail Morinaj was arrested in Croatia in June on a Serbian warrant. A court in Dubrovnik has agreed to extradite him to Serbia.

Violence interrupted a European Championship qualifier in October 2014 between Serbia and Albania after a drone with an Albanian banner appeared over the pitch. Tensions between Serbia and Albania have been high over breakaway Kosovo, formerly a Serbian province dominated by ethnic Albanians.

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.

Earlier in July, 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 was quoted as saying on Albania's Top Channel TV.

Albania's Justice Ministry last 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.

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