A former health adviser to Kosovo's prime minister testified on Monday in the so-called Medicus case, which centres on allegations of organ trafficking and organised crime.
Shaip Muja, who is now a member of the Kosovo parliament, told the court that the Medicus Clinic near Pristina did not have a proper operating licence and was not licensed to carry out organ transplants.
Seven Medicus-linked suspects appeared in court in mid-December in Pristina accused of bringing up to 30 people, plucked from the poorest corners of the world, to Kosovo under the false promise that they would be paid for their kidneys.
Muja, a member of the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, also said he had met one of the defendants in the case, Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez.
Sonmez, dubbed “Doctor Vampire” by the Turkish media, was arrested in Istanbul at the beginning of January and later released on bail.
Muja said that he was introduced to the suspect by the owner of the Medicus Clinic, Lutfi Dervishi.
“We met at the wedding of Lutfi Dervishi's son. There were plenty of guests at the wedding, personalities from political life and doctors...it is part of our customs that you meet with the rest of the guests at a wedding,” Muja said.
The case involves allegations that a group of people brought poor donors and rich recipients to the Medicus clinic and organised and carried out the harvesting and transplant of kidneys.
Nine people in total have been charged with human trafficking, organised crime and the unlawful exercise of medical activities, including university professor Dervishi, who is accused of being the ringleader of the alleged activities during 2008.
The Kosovo men named in the indictment were allegedly aided by Sonmez, who is wanted on organ trafficking charges in several countries, and Moshe Harel, an Israeli of Turkish origin who the prosecution says acted as the gang’s fixer, finding both donors and recipients and handling funds.
Muja was called to testify because former health minister Alush Gashi has said Muja called him with regard to a licence application by the Medicus clinic.
The lawmaker said he had asked about the licence because he had been contacted by a family who wanted to get dialysis treatment for their 13-year-old child and had been told it would cost 300,000 euros at a clinic in Germany.
"The father was crying for help, and I felt that I have a moral obligation to ask about what had happened with the licence," Muja said.
The Medicus Clinic has also been linked to allegations in a Council of Europe report issued in December 2010 that members of the Kosovo Liberation Army sold the organs of prisoners during the 1999 Kosovo war.
Muja is also mentioned in the report as being one of the key players in the alleged organ harvesting ring but he has strongly denied any involvement. He is the second lawmaker to testify in the Medicus case.
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