news 21 Sep 17

Kosovo Clinic ‘Removed Patients’ Kidneys Unnecessarily’

A forensics expert told the retrial of three men originally convicted of involvement in organ-trafficking from the Medicus clinic in Kosovo that two patients had their kidneys removed for no medical reason.

Die Morina, Blerta Iberdemaj
BIRN
Pristina
The former Medicus clinic near Pristina.

Forensics expert Carmen Barbu told Pristina Basic Court on Thursday that the kidneys of two patients of the Medicus clinic who are testifying as protected witnesses in the trial were removed for no medical reason.

The former owner of the Medicus clinic, Lutfi Dervishi, his son Arban Dervishi and head anesthetist Sokol Hajdini are being retried for alleged involvement in organised crime in connection with people-trafficking after a Kosovo Supreme Court ruling overturned the original convictions.

Barbu told the court that she found after examining that both of them did not have their left kidney.

“From the CT scan, we found the absence of the left kidney, and it was also concluded that the kidney was removed surgically,” she said.

She stated that from a medical point of view, there was no reason to remove a kidney from these patients.

“There has been no serious pathology or any trauma in the past of these patients that would justify kidney removal,” Barbu said.

Prosecutor Valeria Bolici asked Barbu which kidney is usually removed when a person donates it.

“In the case of kidney transplantation, if there is a kidney donor, usually the left kidney is taken, as the vein is longer and it is easier to repair,” she replied.

The appeals court initially upheld the men’s convictions in March 2016, jailing Lutfi Dervishi and his son for eight years and Hajdini for five.

The ruling said found that “multiple 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.

But after the appeals court ruling, Kosovo’s Supreme Court ordered a retrial on the basis of procedural irregularities.

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

The 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.

Investigators closed down the clinic in 2008, and it has since been sold.

On Wednesday, the court also heard the testimony of a nurse who assisted during surgery at the Medicus clinic, Shpresa Makolli.

Prosecutor Bolici asked Makolli if she had noticed anything special during over 20 surgeries that she assisted at the clinic, but the witness replied that she “did not notice any indication or something special”.

The retrial will continue on Tuesday.

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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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