A man who was convicted in absentia in Albania many years ago of killing a police officer and his eight-year-old son was recently discovered living in Montreal under a false name and appeared before a judge at the Montreal courthouse on Friday.
The Albanian government has requested the extradition Ëngjëll Brahimi, 60, a man they allege has been living in Canada under the name Piro Kota for years.
According to an affidavit filed with the extradition request: “On May 21, 2001, the applicant was found guilty in absentia by an Albanian Court of premeditated murder due to vengeance, murder committed in other specific circumstances, attempted murder, and illegal possession of firearms. Two of the victims were killed, one of whom was a child. The other was the former chief of criminal investigations in the Albanian district of Fier.”
In January, authorities in Albania asked that Brahimi be arrested and he was apprehended on Jan. 26.
The Albanian government alleges Brahimi killed the police officer, Astrit Brace, and his eight-year-old son, Asllan, in an ambush of gunfire on Aug. 10, 2000.
Another affidavit filed at the Montreal courthouse provides more details about what was behind the ambush.
In 1997, Brahimi’s brother, Ilirian, was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police after someone had opened fire on an ambulance. Brace was one of the police officers present when Brahimi’s brother was killed and Brace’s brother was the head of the local police station.
Someone tried to shoot Brace in 1999, but missed. Brahimi was a suspect in that shooting, but there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him.
On Aug. 10, 2000, Brace and his wife went to a beach with their son Asllan, their daughter, a niece and a nephew. They were all in the same Mercedes-Benz as they left the beach when the car was struck by gunfire in the village of Poro-Pisha.
Brahimi is alleged have stepped out of an Audi and opened fire toward the Mercedes-Benz. At least one other person is believed to have opened fire from the left side of the Benz.
The affidavit described how Brace managed to exit the Benz and walked toward a nearby river. His wife survived the ambush and noticed her son was dead and her nephew had been wounded.
“The witness Luljeta Brace then came out of the car and addressed (Brahimi) with the words ‘Criminal, you killed my son.’ On his part, (Brahimi) did not respond, but got into his vehicle and left to pursue the other victim, Astrit Brace,” the affidavit states.
Brace’s wife said she later heard gunfire. Her husband’s body was found the following day at the edge of the Vjosa River.
Authorities in Albania could not locate Brahimi after the shooting. The affidavit describes how, on April 6, 2001, he and his wife, Elvira Brahimi, “appeared before a Greek court in Athens in relation to immigration violations and the use of false passports. During the hearing, both the applicant and his wife admitted their real identities and provided details on how they obtained the counterfeit documents.”
Authorities believe Brahimi left Greece and entered the U.S. before crossing into Canada using a false passport. In 2020, a man with the same name as Brahimi’s alias was interviewed by Metro, a newspaper in Montreal. The man identified as Piro Kota told the newspaper he was teaching lessons on how to drive trucks in the St-Laurent borough.
According to documents filed in the extradition request: “In 2018, Interpol Ottawa advised Albania that they had reason to suspect Mr. Brahimi was living in Montreal under a false identity of Piro Kota.”
When Brahimi was arrested by the RCMP in January, “he admitted that he is in fact Ëngjëll Brahimi. (He) stated that he was aware of the charges against him, that he fled the jurisdiction, that he entered the United States and then Canada under a fake name, and eventually obtained citizenship under this false identity.”