News 20 Dec 10

Albania Minister Denies Investigating Allegations of KLA Crimes

Albania’s Minister of Interior Lulzim Basha has denied assisting an ICTY expert who travelled to the country in 2003 to investigate claims that the Kosovo Liberation Army harvested organs of Serb prisoners.

Besar Likmeta

“This is a dumb declaration, I have never been in any yellow house,” Basha told reporters in the city of Shkodra on Sunday, referring to an ICTY investigation of a house in the Mat region in northern Albania where Carla Del Ponte, the former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, has alleged that Serb prisoners were killed for their organs.

The allegations that Basha assisted the ICTY as a translator were made by former forensics expert Pablo Baraybar.

In an interview for Swiss newspaper Le Temps, Baraybar said that had visited northern Albania incognito to investigate the claims in 2003, and had been assisted by Basha, who worked as a legal expert for UNMIK in Kosovo at the time.

“My translator was Lulzim Basha, he became interior minister in Albania later and I have heard him say that the allegations were nonexistent, while he was with me,” said Baraybar.

“I know that he knows, we were together and he has seen the dossier,” Baraybar added.

Basha's alleged presence at the investigation in 2003 surfaced after the contents of a draft Council of Europe report hit headlines around the world last week.

The document, drafted by Dick Marty, a Swiss MP in the Council of Europe, links a group of former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters, including Kosovo's current Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, to organised crime and organ harvesting.

Basha said the claims made in the report, which was approved by the CoE's Legal and Political Affairs Committee in Paris on Thursday, were only recycled allegations. 

The report also criticises Albania for not cooperating in investigating the alleged abuses.

Thaci, whose party won the recent elections in Kosovo, called the report "scandalous" and said it is filled with defamation and lies, in a press conference last Thursday.

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