News 19 Oct 12

EU Kosovo Organ Trade Team to Interview in Serbia

The EU Special Task Force charged with investigating the organ trafficking that allegedly took place in Kosovo and Albania in 1990s, will start to interview witnesses in Serbia.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade
Chief Prosecutor Clint Williamson meeting Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic I Photo by Beta

Following a two-day visit to Serbia by Clint Williamson, the Chief Prosecutor of the EU Special Investigative Task Force, SITF, his team announced that the next step is to find out more about the people who disappeared during the Kosovo conflict.

“We will continue our investigative work and this will obviously involve interviews with witnesses in Serbia, including those who have information relevant to the disappearance of individuals during the Kosovo conflict and its aftermath,” Juri Las, a spokesperson of the SITF, told the local media.

The investigation into organ harvesting follows the release of a report by Dick Marty, the then human rights rapporteur at the Council of Europe, in December 2010.

The 2010 report alleges that some elements of the KLA, including Kosovo's Prime Minister Hasim Tachi, had trafficked the organs of prisoners during the 1999 conflict.

Williamson met Serbia’s President Tomislav Nikolic and Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, who expressed their support and pledged that Serbian government institutions would continue to fully cooperate with the investigation, the SITF announced after the meetings.

Williamson declined to comment further on the meetings, saying that the investigation is ongoing.

According to the statement issued by the President’s office after the meeting with Williamson, the EU team’s investigations will extend to other alleged war crimes that took place during the Kosovo conflict, as well as the organ trafficking allegations.

Vladimir Vukcevic, the Serbian Chief Prosecutor for War Crimes, who also met Williamson, said that the Serbian prosecution had presented new evidence to their EU colleagues regarding organ harvesting in Kosovo and Albania.

his was the first meeting between Williamson and Vukcevic, since a Serbian TV station broadcast an interview with an alleged ex Kosovo Liberation Army member who claimed to have harvested the organs of Serbian prisoners in the Albanian village of Kukes in 1999.

The TV interview was criticized by both international and local experts, as it could harm the investigation into organ trafficking claims.

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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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