Mirjan Ismaili – 52 (04.06.70) of no fixed address – was found guilty of perverting the course of justice following a trial at Isleworth Crown Court on Tuesday, 28 February. He will be sentenced at the same court on Thursday, 2 March.

The jury heard how Ismaili rushed to assist his friend Besnik Berisha in the immediate aftermath of the murders of Shkelqim Paja and Arber Fesko on 19 December 2019.

Berisha and a second man, Kiziku Tuwizana, had attacked and fatally stabbed Shkelqim and Arber after ambushing them in Courtlands Avenue, Mill Hill at around 20:00hrs that evening.

The murderers split up with Berisha taking Shkelqim’s body to a remote location near Elstree and dumping his body. Within 30 minutes of the murder, Berisha called Ismaili who rushed from his home in Ecclesbourne Close, N13 and drove in his BMW car to meet him.

Berisha was driving a white Peugeot van that he had used to dump Shkelqim’s body – Ismaili was also insured to drive the van so would have understandably had an interest in what was happening to this vehicle.

Over the next nine hours, CCTV cameras captured the van and Ismaili’s BMW driving in convoy to various locations across London as they attempted to dispose of evidence.

The van was dumped in Carson Road, Barnet at around 03:00hrs on 20 December 2019 before the BMW was seen driving towards Berisha’s home in Friern Barnet – Ismaili then returned home.

However, on his return Ismaili chose not the park his car in the space outside his address but to leave it some distance away and walk home. Footage from his Ring doorbell around the time of his arrival home was deleted in an attempt to cover his tracks.

The following day, Ismaili left the country via Eurotunnel on a pre-planned family trip but did not return as planned on 2 January 2020. Instead he disappeared and nothing was heard from him until his BMW was found by Italian police in February 2020. It was returned to the UK and once forensically examined, traces of Shkelqim Paja’s blood was discovered.

An arrest warrant had been issued and Ismaili was subsequently detained in Switzerland – he was extradited back to the UK in November 2021.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Rawlinson from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command said:

“Mirjan Ismaili did not murder Shkelqim Paja and Arber Fesko but he played an integral part in trying to ensure those who did evaded detection.

“Ismaili was insured to drive the van that was used to dispose of one of the bodies and was present when it was dumped; he not ask any questions about what was happening and his account did not stand up to scrutiny.

“He deliberately wiped his doorbell footage and then fled the UK for two years. It is clear that he knew what Berisha and Tuwizana had done; he willingly tried to assist them in disposing of evidence, and now he has rightly been held to account for his actions.”

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