News 03 Mar 16

Three Kosovo Organ Traffickers’ Jail Sentences Upheld

Pristina’s appeals court confirmed the jailing of three men convicted of organised crime in connection with organ-trafficking at Kosovo’s Medicus clinic in 2008, but two others were acquitted.

Petrit Collaku
BIRN
Pristina
Lutfi Dervishi outside the court. Photo: BIRN.

The appeals court on Thursday upheld the convictions of Medicus clinic owner Lutfi Dervishi, his son Arban Dervishi and head anaesthetist Sokol Hajdini, ruling that they were guilty of organised crime in connection with people trafficking.

Lutfi Dervishi and his son were jailed for eight years and Hajdini for five.

“The offences were committed at the Medicus Clinic where throughout 2008 multiple illegal kidney transplants took place,” a court statement said.

“The Court of Appeals found that even though the police search at the Medicus Clinic was illegal, there remains enough evidence that seven illegal kidney transplants took place,” it added.

However the court ruled that there was insufficient evidence that the clinic’s assistant anaesthetists Islam Bytyqi and Sylejman Dula were involved in organ trafficking.

This overturns their sentences imposed in April 2013, when Bytyqi and Dula were found guilty of grievous bodily harm and sentenced to a year’s imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Lutfi Dervishi was also prohibited from working as a urologist for the period of two years.

EU rule-of-law mission, EULEX prosecutors had alleged in the indictment that around 30 illegal kidney transplants took place at the clinic in 2008.

Poor people from Turkey, Russia, Moldova and Kazakhstan were allegedly brought to the clinic after being assured that they would receive up to 15,000 euro for their kidneys.

The EU rule of law mission prosecutor in the case said that transplant recipients, mainly Israelis, paid more than 70,000 euro for the kidneys.

Police initially raided the clinic in 2008 after a Turkish man whose kidney had been removed was found seriously ill at Pristina airport.

Two foreign suspects in the case - Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez and Moshe Harel, an Israeli citizen - are still listed as wanted by Interpol but remain at large.

The Medicus clinic was also mentioned in a Council of Europe report which alleged that elements of the Kosovo Liberation Army traded the organs of prisoners during the 1999 conflict.

Thursday’s appeals court panel was composed of two international judges and one local judge.

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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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