News 25 Jan 11

Council Adopts Kosovo Organ Trafficking Resolution

The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly has adopted a resolution on alleged organ trafficking in Kosovo and called for an investigation into the claims.

The MPs from the Council of Europe voted in support of the report by Swiss MP Dick Marty, which alleges that a criminal network tied to the Kosovo Liberation Army executed prisoners and harvested their kidneys to sell for illicit organ transplant.

166 MPs voted in favour of the resolution, 8 against, and 9 abstained.

The Albanian delegation to PACE proposed a number of amendments in an effort to water down the other elements of the resolution, but most of its proposals were rejected.

The resolution calls for international and Albanian investigations into crimes committed in the aftermath of the conflict in Kosovo, including “numerous indications” that organs were removed from prisoners on Albanian territory to be taken abroad for transplantation.

Investigators must also look into “the collusion so often complained of between organised criminal groups and political circles”, the resolution reads.

The Assembly asked that EULEX, the EU rule of law mission in Kosovo, be given a clear mandate, the resources and high-level political support it needs to carry out the probes into the allegations made by Marty, and emphasised the need for strong witness protection programmes. It also called on Albanian and Kosovo officials to cooperate with the investigation.

The “appalling crimes committed by Serbian forces” had stirred up very strong feelings worldwide, giving rise to the assumption that it was invariably one side which were the perpetrators of crimes and the other side the victims, the Assembly declared. “The reality is less clear-cut and more complex,” the resolution reads. “There cannot be one justice for the winners and another for the losers.”

In a press conference following the vote, Dick Marty told reporters: "The resolution shows that in this organisation we are not engaged in politics. We are here as watchdogs for the values of the European Convention on Human Rights."

The Assembly has understood that this report is not against Kosovo or Albania and it is not against the people who live in this region."

He added: "There is no reason for triumph today. My thoughts go to those families who still do not know the fate of their loved ones. In Belgrade or Pristina when we met these people they begged to us to find their loved ones. What is scandalous is not my report but the fact that witnesses were murdered."

When asked by reporters about what evidence he could provide to back up his allegations, Marty replied:  "as far as i am concerned it is up to investigative judges to find the evidence. We can provide information, we can provide names of witnesses....  We are willing to engage in a dialogue with EULEX.  But we want to know under what conditions this very sensitive data that we will provide will be processed."

"I have accepted great responsiblity vis-à-vis certain people", Marty explained, adding that he didn't want anyone to suffer because of the information that they provided to him.

Pressed by a reporter about allegations that the report targeted the Kosovo people, Marty said that the wording of the document is extremely important. He added that politicians misused the information to say that the entire country was responsible, calling it "a typical political method to identify a scapegoat so that people will forget about internal problems."

"Any person who has read that report cannot say that it is against Kosovo or against the Kosovo people," he said.

Zeljko Ivanji from Serbia, speaking before the Assembly during the debate, said that there "are not victors here".

"This monstrous case is unique because it is about the trafficking of violently removed human organs. We have the organiser and we know that everybody kept quiet, shielding the reality, and they need to hide the evidence of their wrongful and hypocritical policy. Even if we wanted to remain silent on this, we simply do not have the right to do so, because in this case, the dead were speaking louder than us for years," he added.

Shpetim Idrizi, an Albanian MP, argued that the report lacked factual evidence.

"This is something ordered by Russia and Serbia, and offers no facts. This is a story full of untruths and propaganda."

Damian Gjiknuri from Albania said that the report "has no proper evidence", and asked that the Assembly adopt the amendments proposed by Albania so that the text would be stripped of its "political opinion". He underlined, however, that Tirana supported an investigation into the allegations.

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