News 04 Mar 13

Kosovo Prosecutor Demands New Organ-Trafficking Charges

The prosecution said fresh charges should be brought because "appalling" new evidence had emerged during the trial for alleged illicit kidney-trading at a Kosovo clinic.

Edona Peci

The EU rule of law mission in Kosovo’s prosecutor, Jonathan Ratel, told the court on Friday that fresh charges would be added to the current indictment because “brand new evidence” had come to light during the trial of seven Kosovo Albanians and two foreigners for alleged organ-trafficking from a Pristina clinic.

He said the amended indictment will include charges of grievous bodily harm, fraud and falsification of documents.

“The evidence presented [during the trial] indicates a factual change in the circumstances,” Ratel said.

The prosecution has charged seven Kosovo Albanians and two foreigners, Yusuf Somnez and Moshe Harel, with human trafficking, organised crime and unlawful medical activities at the Medicus clinic near Pristina.

The indictment says that 30 illegal kidney transplants took place at the clinic in 2008.

Poor people from Turkey, Russia, Moldova and Kazakhstan were allegedly lured to the clinic with the false promise that they would receive up to 15,000 euro for their kidneys.

The alleged ringleader, Lutfi Dervishi, a university professor who owns the Medicus clinic, has denied the charges.

The foreign defendants, Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez and Moshe Harel, an Israeli citizen, are being tried in their absence.

According to the indictment, Sonmez is the subject of several criminal proceedings in other countries, including Turkey, for human trafficking and the illegal removal of organs.

Ratel said the indictment had to be changed because of significant new information from abroad.

“Evidence from 17 states, included the appalling evidence from the witnesses [makes clear] that not only Sonmez and Harel were solely involved in bank transfers and cash [amounts] to the donors and recipients of organs,” he said.

He said that “brand new evidence linked to the onnection between Dervishi, Sonmez and Harel” had appeared during the trial.

But Fazli Balaj, one of the defence lawyers, objected to the new charges.

“This would be a new indictment and we don’t need it at almost the end of the process,” he said.

The Medicus clinic, which was closed down in 2008 as part of the initial investigation, is 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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