Anchorage restaurant owner waives extradition proceedings

Posted: Friday, December 22, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Restaurant owner Nick Shabani has decided not to fight extradition to Macedonia but will, instead, return willingly to that country to face a murder charge.

Shabani was scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate Friday to sign an extradition waiver, said assistant U.S. attorney Mark Rosenbaum. If his waiver is accepted by Magistrate Harry Branson, the U.S. Marshal's Service will be ordered to hold Shabani for pickup by Macedonian officials, Rosenbaum said.

No reason for the waiver was offered Thursday. Defense attorney Tim Petumenos said he will make a public statement after the court hearing.

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

In an interview several weeks before his arrest, Shabani 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.

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