News 03 May 12

Albania Opens Its Doors for Organ Trafficking Probe

The government approved on Wednesday a bill, giving unprecedented access to its territory to a EULEX team of prosecutors, investigating allegations that the KLA harvested organs of Serb war prisoners.

Besar Likmeta
EU Law and Order Mission, EULEX, officers in Kosovo

Speaking during a cabinet meeting Prime Minister Sali Berisha said that the law that would soon be sent to parliament, gives the EULEX special task force on organ trafficking, all the means for a full investigation on the territory of Albania.

“We bestow our full trust on the team and with this law we create the necessary legal framework to ensure our full backing,” Berisha said, adding that the EULEX special prosecutor will have the power to search even alleged mass grave sites.

“We are outmost interested that these allegations are investigated with absolute seriousness,” he added.

Dick Marty, the human rights rapporteur at the Council of Europe, released a report in December 2010 linking former Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, fighters, including Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, to organised crime and accused them of harvesting the organs of Serb prisoners and others in Albania.

Kosovo and Albanian authorities have denied the allegations and have agreed to participate in the international investigation into the claims.

The bill, drafted jointly by Albania’s Ministry of Justice and EULEX, follows a visit in January in Tirana of John Clint Williamson, the US prosecutor leading the investigative task-force into the allegations presented in Marty’s report.

If passed the law will give sweeping powers to the EULEX task-force to call witness and search premises on Albanian territory, through mutual legal assistance requests.

The task-force will have the right to “hear witnesses, experts and persons charged in Albania; inspect premises, take evidence and get a hold of any materials that it deems important to investigate and prosecute,” the bill reads.

The task-force will cooperate in the investigation directly with Albania’s general prosecutor, while all the authorities involved will be mandated by law to safeguard the confidentiality of the probe.

The law spells out that local authorities cannot refuse to cooperate with the task-force with the excuse that the crimes under investigation “are political in nature.”

All the members of the EULEX task-force in Albania will enjoy diplomatic immunity as well as their premises and vehicles.

Even witnesses or people of interests called by EULEX to give evidence will enjoy immunity from prosecution during the investigation period.

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