Anchorage restaurant owner to stand trial in Macedonia

Posted: Tuesday, January 30, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An Anchorage man will stand trial on murder charges in Macedonia.

Nedzat ''Nick'' Shabani was accompanied by U.S. Marshals on a flight early Saturday from Anchorage to Macedonia. Shabani decided not to fight extradition.

Under Macedonian law, the trial will occur within the next 180 days. If convicted, Shabani faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark A. Rosenbaum refused to provide details about the transfer.

Shabani was charged by Macedonian police with a street shooting in the city of Kicevo on Sept. 27. Anchorage resident Matt Mehmedi was killed, and his son Blerim ''Benny'' Mehmedi was seriously wounded.

The elder Mehmedi was visiting the land of his birth for the first time in 30 years. His son accompanied him to explore his roots and to check out the possibility of an arranged marriage to a woman his relatives thought would make him a good wife. Both Mehmedis were shot in the head.

A third man, a Macedonian relative of the Mehmedis, was shot in the groin as he wrested the gun from the fleeing shooter.

Investigators say Shabani secretly left the United States and flew to Albania in late September and then used his Macedonian passport to cross from Albania into Macedonia. The charges say he attempted to kill both Mehmedis in revenge for an affair the son allegedly had with Shabani's wife last year.

According to the charges, Shabani then fled back across the border to Albania and flew home to Alaska.

Shabani has denied any involvement with the shootings. He said Benny Mehmedi and his wife did not have an affair, and he vowed to prove that he was in Alaska during the time of the shooting.

Shabani has lived in Alaska for about 12 years. He and his wife own two well-known Anchorage family restaurants, Balto's and Phillips.

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