Posted on: June 1, 2022, 06:01h.
Last updated on: June 1, 2022, 06:01h.
One of the alleged primary leaders of an international crime syndicate behind illegal gambling, drug money laundering and more is a free man. Bashkim Osmani is to stand trial in Spain for his alleged involvement as a mafia boss, but is out on bail.
Three months after entering a prison in Palma de Mallorca, Osmani paid €400,000 (US$428,560) in bail on Tuesday. With that, he left the penitentiary center as he awaits his trial. The judge who granted bail ordered him not to leave the island, confiscating his passport and requiring him to report twice a month to the court to ensure he’s still around.
Osmani’s arrest was part of the so-called Operation Casino, which mobilized Spain’s Civil Guard, the National Police, the main European security agencies and the FBI. In requesting bail, the Kosovar tycoon’s lawyer, Jaime Campaner, alleges that there is no evidence against his client and that he should remain free.
Osmani a Recognizable Face in Palma
The arrival of Osmani in Mallorca dates back to 1999, when he bought a restaurant in the Portals area of Palma, which he later renamed Ritzi. He then acquired an apartment in the area before building a €5-million (US$5.36 million) mansion in the exclusive urbanization of Camp de Mar.
During that time, he was allegedly conducting his illegal operations. The Civil Guard detected something suspicious in the 1990s, but it wasn’t until 2018 until the case broke. That year, the Information Service of the Benemérita, an elite law enforcement unit, set as one of its objectives the dismantling of the criminal organization.
The FBI, the DEA, the British NCA and the Italian DIA (Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate) gave support to the Civil Guard and the National Police in their investigation. Finally, last February, Osmani’s businesses were searched. This led to his arrest, as well as that of relatives and his lieutenants in various parts of Europe.
More than 600 agents mobilized in half of Europe to confiscate the criminals’ properties. At the time, the alleged kingpin was located in one of his hotels in Croatia.
Osmani’s network, according to investigators, moved huge amounts of cocaine between South America and Europe, and laundered the money. The organization also ran illegal gambling operations in several countries.
Osmani Claims Innocence
Before arriving in Spain in February, Osmani spent two weeks in a Croatian prison. From that day forward, he has continued to claim his innocence and has been defiant in court. Making his first appearance in Spain, he refused to speak, only conferring with his lawyer, who did all of the talking.
As law enforcement was arresting him in Croatia, in Spain, a different scenario was playing out. His mansion was allegedly a true fortress and it took the agents five hours to gain access. In the house, there were works of art of great value, watches, jewelry and a large amount of cash. The Civil Guard seized all of it as evidence.
In the last five years, according to media reports, the mafia has held up to ten summits in Mallorca. Osmani allegedly organized the events and invited the attendees. The group always held its secret meetings in summer, and the last one took place last year.
Normally the guests were five or six prominent figures of the European underworld – Italians of the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta and Balkans of Kosovo. The individuals stayed for more than a week in luxury hotels in the area. Interestingly, one of the mafia summits in Mallorca coincided with another of Europol.
However, despite the long investigation by international law enforcement, Osmani claims he is innocent. As he was leaving prison on Tuesday afternoon, he proclaimed, again, his innocence. He stated that he had nothing to do with the very serious crimes he is accused of and said he can prove it. He’ll get that chance in court later this year.