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Hoxha v. Levi

October 3, 2006

KRENAR HOXHA, APPELLANT,
v.
TROY LEVI, WARDEN OF PHILADELPHIA FEDERAL DETENTION CENTER



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (D.C. No. 05-cv-01211) District Judge: Honorable Berle M. Schiller.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Fuentes, Circuit Judge

PRECEDENTIAL

Argued June 1, 2006

Before: AMBRO, FUENTES, and GREENBERG, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

The Republic of Albania seeks extradition of Krenar Hoxha for the murders of three Albanian citizens that took place in Albania in 1996. Following a finding by a Magistrate Judge that he was extraditable, Hoxha filed a petition for habeas corpus that was denied by the District Court. On appeal, Hoxha argues that he is entitled to habeas relief because (1) the Magistrate Judge should have allowed testimony at the extradition hearing by recanting witnesses, (2) the extradition treaty between Albania and the United States is invalid, and (3) he should not be returned to Albania because he will face torture and possible death there. We conclude that Hoxha's claims do not justify a grant of his habeas petition, and we therefore affirm the judgment of the District Court.

I. BACKGROUND

Krenar Hoxha ("Petitioner") was born in Albania in 1970 and became a naturalized United States citizen in January 2002.*fn1 Pursuant to an extradition treaty between Albania and the United States, the Albanian government seeks Petitioner's extradition for trial on the murders of Ilmi and Roza Kasemi and their son Eltion Kasemi.

Matilda Kasemi, the Kasemis' ten year-old daughter, described the murders in a statement to the police made shortly after the murders occurred. She stated that at about 2 a.m. on September 27, 1996, a man wearing all black, whom Matilda did not recognize, entered the room in which Matilda, her brother, and her parents were sleeping. When Roza Kasemi asked the intruder's name, he immediately shot her without responding. He then shot both Ilmi and Eltion Kasemi, but left without noticing Matilda. Matilda stated that she would recognize the killer if she saw him again.

A. The Case Against Petitioner

The Republic of Albania alleges that in the mid-1970s, decedent Ilmi Kasemi was romantically involved with Mimoza Hoxha, Petitioner's sister, but the two were forbidden from marrying by Petitioner's parents. A declaration from Ilmi Kasemi's brother, Murat Kasemi, supports this assertion.*fn2 Both Ilmi Kasemi and Mimoza Hoxha married others and raised families but, according to the Albanian government, the two renewed an extramarital relationship of which Petitioner strongly disapproved. The Albanian government alleges that Petitioner's anger at Ilmi Kazemi was the motive for the murders, but provided no documentary evidence of a continuing relationship between Kasemi and Mimoza Hoxha.*fn3 The Albanian government did, however, submit evidence of animosity between Petitioner and Ilmi Kasemi. Specifically, Rahman Sheqeri, a friend and former co-worker of Kasemi, stated in a declaration that on the evening of September 12, 1996, fifteen days before the murders, he saw Petitioner standing with another man about fifty meters from the Kasemi house, holding a gun. Petitioner looked very agitated and, when he saw Sheqeri, told him to go away. Sheqeri reported this incident to Ilmi Kasemi, and Kasemi told Sheqeri that he was sure that Petitioner had been looking for Kasemi that evening. Kasemi also told Sheqeri that Petitioner had assaulted Kasemi on an earlier occasion.

The Albanian government submitted three declarations-from Daut Hoxha, a cousin of Petitioner, and from Daut Hoxha's wife and sister-containing testimony that both parties agree has now been recanted. In his recanted declaration, Daut Hoxha stated that on the night of the murders, Petitioner came to Daut Hoxha's house carrying an automatic weapon inside a plastic bag.*fn4 Petitioner left the gun in the bag at Daut Hoxha's house, and then returned for it at about 5 a.m., intending to throw it in the river. Instead, Daut Hoxha and Petitioner went to the home of Fetah Hoxha, a relative, where Daut Hoxha hid the gun in a sofa. Based on this testimony from Daut Hoxha, the Albanian police searched Fetah Hoxha's home two days after the murders and found a gun in a blue bag hidden in a sofa. A ballistics examination demonstrated that the gun was the weapon used in the murders.

Daut Hoxha's wife, Bajame Hoxha, stated in her recanted declaration that sometime after midnight on the night of the murders, Petitioner knocked on the door of their home and Daut Hoxha let him in. Bajame Hoxha did not hear what was said, but noted that Petitioner did not stay long. In the morning, at about 7 a.m., Bajame Hoxha saw Petitioner in the house again, and she also saw a large empty black plastic bag in a corner of the house. At about 8 a.m., Bajame Hoxha woke up her husband, and he went to work.

Daut Hoxha's sister, Ardjana Hoxha, who lived with her brother at the time of the murders, stated in her recanted declaration that at about 6:30 a.m. on the morning after the murders, she heard her brother asking Petitioner "what did you do?" and ...


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