News 15 Dec 10

Amnesty Calls for Probe Into Organ Trade Claims

Amnesty International has called on the EU rule of law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, to open an investigation into the alleged involvement of Kosovo’s Premier Hashim Thaci in the post-war abduction of Albanians and Serbs.

The human rights watchdog called for a probe in a press release issued a day after a damning report was released by the Council of Europe which names the Kosovo premier as the boss of a crime gang that sold body parts, carried out assassinations and dealt drugs both during the conflict in Kosovo and after.

Europe's top human rights investigator, Dick Marty, alleges in his report that a criminal network linked to Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci summarily executed prisoners, including Serbs, Roma and Albanians deemed to be collaborating with Serb authorities, and harvested their kidneys to sell for illicit organ transplants.

"Amnesty International endorses Dick Marty’s call for the EU to give EULEX all the resources it needs to carry out a full and impartial investigation into these allegations, and all other post- conflict abductions. This includes the resources to set up an effective witness protection programme," said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.

"The families of the Serbs, Roma and Albanians abducted after the war have waited too long for justice. They deserve to know their relatives’ fate," he adds.

Human Rights Watch echoed AI's call for investigations.

“The international community can no longer ignore credible allegations of serious crimes in Kosovo and Albania,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, in a press release.

“The US and European governments must demand prompt, thorough, and impartial investigations, with prosecutions of those responsible,” he added.

In the 27-page document, which is the result of a two-year investigation, Marty writes that victims were taken to camps in Albania, where some were murdered and their organs removed for trafficking.

The report alleges that the organ trafficking was part of a broader web of organised crime activities including assassinations and drug trafficking.

The Kosovo government has denounced the allegations as a smear campaign against the Kosovo Liberation Army and the Kosovo state.

Amnesty noted that it has called for investigations into the fate of Serbs, Roma and others abducted after the end of the armed conflict, but said that this had not happened.

The human rights watchdog also expressed concern that the draft report remarks that the international community "sacrifice[d] some important principles of justice" and chose not to investigate post-war abductions, political killings and other allegations against Hashim Thaci and the KLA in order to promote "short-term stability".

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Background

From Kosovo's Organ-Harvesting Controversy to Special Court

This is the sequence of events leading from the organ-trafficking allegations in Kosovo to the creation of the special court that aims to prosecute Kosovo Liberation Army crimes.

Fatmir Limaj, Kosovo's Road-Builder

Corruption allegations have not dented the popularity of the KLA- fighter-turned-PDK politician who has made it his mission to transform the country’s traffic arteries.

KLA : From Guerilla Wars to Party Plenums

The Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, was an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group that came to the fore in the mid-1990s, demanding the unification of Albanian territories in former Yugoslavia with Albania.

KLA Ran Torture Camps in Albania

The Kosovo Liberation Army maintained a network of prisons in their bases in Albania and Kosovo during and after the conflict of 1999, eyewitnesses allege. Only now are the details of what occurred there emerging.

The Drenica Group

Crime gang allegedly headed by Prime Minister Thaci is said to have run a range of mafia-like enterprises, from cigarette smuggling to trafficking in organs.

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