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Prosecution witness alerted gardai to murder of Albanian

A PROSECUTION witness in a murder trial was himself arrested and questioned about the crime 24 hours after raising the alarm, a jury heard yesterday.

Bashkim Osaj brought gardai to the scene of the murder of an Albanian woman in Sligo last year and implicated a friend, the Central Criminal Court in Sligo heard. Mr Osaj, a native of Kosovo in Ireland since 1997, continued his evidence yesterday in the trial of Eduart 'Ardi' Kulici (24), an Albanian living at Maltings Apartments, Bonham Street, Dublin.

Mr Kulici has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Lindita Kukaj (23), who was strangled at her flat on Wolfe Tone St, Sligo on February 22, 2003.

Mr Osaj, who drove the accused to Sligo the day before the murder, said he raised the alarm at Kennedy's Statoil on the Dublin side of Carrick-on-Shannon as they returned to Dublin.

He said Mr Kulici earlier threw a long knife and crowbar out of the car window. The court heard when the weapons were recovered near Ballinafad there were no fingerprints on them.

When defence counsel pressed Mr Osaj on how Mr Kulici could have hidden a sharp eight inch blade on his person, he replied: "Jesus I have seen men hiding bigger ones than that."

The witness told Mr Justice Paul Carney and a jury of five women and seven men the accused backed him against a wall at knifepoint in Lindita's flat after the murder to compel him to drive him back to Dublin.

Garda Michael Farrell told the court he had stopped Mr Osaj and the accused in Dromod after they drove at speed and in a zig-zag fashion on leaving the Statoil filling station.

Garda Farrell said the driver Mr Osaj had hopped out of the car in Dromod and told him in a low voice that the passenger had killed a woman in Sligo.

The trial resumes on Wednesday.

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