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Anchorage restaurateur convicted of murder

Posted: Tuesday, June 04, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An Anchorage restaurateur was convicted of killing another Anchorage man and wounding his son in a 2000 shooting in Macedonia.

A Macedonian court found Nedzat ''Nick'' Shabani guilty Thursday of murdering Matt Mehmedi, 46, and attempting to murder his son, Benny Mehmedi, 27, according to the Anchorage U.S. Attorney's office.

Prosecutors said the shooting was in revenge for an affair. Benny Mehmedi had said in court papers that he had an affair with Shabani's wife.

It was the second trial for Shabani. A panel of Macedonian judges acquitted him of the same charges in May 2001. Macedonia allows prosecutors to appeal acquittals, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Rosenbaum.

Shabani's acquittal was reversed, and he was retried and found guilty. He was sentenced to nine years in prison, Rosenbaum said.

The Shabani and Mehmedi families are part of Anchorage's Albanian community.

The Mehmedi family had worked for Shabani, but eventually left their jobs with him because of trouble concerning the relationship between Benny Mehmedi and Shabani's wife. Bad blood between the families produced a string of complaints to police during 1999 and 2000 alleging harassment and assault.

The murder took place in September 2000, when Benny Mehmedi and his father were visiting Kicevo.

Matt Mehmedi wanted to show his son his homeland and was attempting to convince Benny Mehmedi to marry a woman the family had chosen as his wife. The Mehmedis and the prospective bride's family met in a Kicevo cafe on Sept. 27, 2000, to talk about a marriage.

As the Mehmedi's left the cafe, a man dressed as a jogger opened fire. Matt and Benny Mehmedi were both hit, as was a cousin who got the weapon away from the gunman. Matt Mehmedi died of his wounds. Benny Mehmedi was seriously injured but recovered, as did the cousin.

The jogger escaped in a Volkswagen driven by an accomplice who later fingered Shabani as the shooter, police said.

Police said Shabani flew to Albania on Sept. 23, 2000, then drove across the Macedonian border on Sept. 27 with a nephew, shot the Mehmedis and fled back across the border, returning to Alaska Sept. 28.

Shabani, who has denied any involvement in the shooting, was arrested in Anchorage in December 2000 at the request of Macedonian authorities and returned to Macedonia by U.S. Marshals after he waived extradition.

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