News 16 Dec 13

Kosovo Organ Trafficking Suspects Evade Justice

EU prosecutors in Kosovo say they are still unable to track down two key suspects accused of participating in an illegal organ-trading ring that sold human kidneys from a clinic near Pristina.

Edona Peci
BIRN
Pristina
Yusuf Sonmez, one of the fugitive suspects

More than eight months after five Kosovo men were convicted of involvement in organ-trafficking from the Medicus clinic near the capital, the EU rule-of law mission EULEX admitted on Monday that it still has no information about the whereabouts of two key foreign suspects in the case.

Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez and Israeli citizen Moshe Harel, both accused of people trafficking and organised crime, are listed as fugitives wanted by Interpol and have been on the run since the indictment in the case was raised in June 2011.

But EULEX judge Malcolm Simmons said that he was “worried that little or almost nothing has happened since then”.

“We can do little until the defendants are arrested,” Simmons said at a hearing in Pristina that was held to give an update on the organ-trafficking case.

EULEX prosecutor Allen Cansick, said the EU mission believes that “Harel is still in Israel”, while “the mission has information that Sonmez is travelling around the world”.

But Cansick expressed hope that the men might be apprehended, saying that “there are however possibilities they might be brought to Kosovo some time later”.

The defendants cannot be tried in their absence, so any course case is dependent their eventual extradition.

In April, a Kosovo court convicted the owner of the Medicus clinic and four others of participating in an illegal organ-trading ring that harvested and sold human kidneys.

The indictment said 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.

Sonmez and Harel, who are suspected of collaborating with the convicted men, had already absconded and have not been seen in Kosovo since.

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.

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Background

Kosovo's Organ-Harvesting Controversy

Here is a sequence of events leading up to the organ-trafficking charges in Kosovo and the release of the Council of Europe report.

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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