The owner of the Medicus Clinic in Pristina, Lufti Dervishi accuses the EULEX of libel, and says that the indictment filed against him and six other associates, is politically motivated.
In an interview for BIRN, the Kosovo urologist Dervishi admitted that operations took place in his institution.
“We had organ transplant at the Medicus Clinic. But, what is written in the indictment is nonsense. It was our aim to create a centre where people can have transplant surgery without having to travel abroad and spend a lot of money,” says Lufti Dervishi.
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.
According to the indictment, 30 operations involving illegal kidney transplants were conducted at the clinic, by luring people from slums in Istanbul, Moscow, Moldova and Kazakhstan with false promises of up to €15,000 for their organs.
Nine persons in total have been charged with human trafficking, organised crime and the unlawful exercise of medical activities, including university professor Lutfi Dervishi, who is accused of being the ring-leader.
But Dervishi says that he is not guilty of any of the charges, as he considers that transplant surgery is a life saving operation and not a crime. The urologist says that the process against him has been created for “political purposes”.
“It is well known that after Carla del Ponte's book, Dick Marty talked about Medicus, Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic talked about it at the UN Security Council, also Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. All this talk gives a political connotation to Medicus case, but for no reason at all,” the defendant said.
Kosovars named in the indictment were allegedly aided by Dr Yusuf Sonmez, wanted for organ trafficking charges in several other 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.
Sonmez, nicknamed “Doctor Vampire” by the Turkish press, has been arrested and released on bail in his native Turkey. He is said to have previously denied the charges of organ trafficking and cannot be extradited to Kosovo due to Turkey's policy on extradition.
Last year a Turkish prosecutor asked for Sonmez to be sentenced to 171 years in prison for the illegal transplantations carried out in the Medicus clinic.
Dervishi says that his Turkish colleague was a real specialist in his profession, and says that it is not fair to give someone who saved hundreds of lives the nickname of “Doctor Vampire”.
Dervishi also rejects the allegations made by the EULEX prosecution that he was a ring-leader of an organized crime network.
“Even after so many court sessions, nothing up until now could have been proven by the prosecution, that we had any links with the world outside Kosovo, to organize such crimes as they allege...The prosecution is libeling us,” he said.
A EULEX Special Prosecutor has requested legal assistance from the Russian Federation, specifically for two of its citizens to appear as witnesses as they are believed to be victims of organ harvesting.
A Canadian man who received a kidney transplant at the clinic is also expected to testify via video-link as a witness.
Lutfi Dervishi argues that the list of names presented by the prosecution is ridiculous.
“Most of the names presented by the prosecutor, he took from a list of passengers who arrived at Pristina airport, and he probably thought they came specifically to Kosovo for Medicus. This is nonsense,” he said in an interview for BIRN.
The case of the Medicus clinic was opened by the Kosovo police, and the UN force UNMIK in November 2008, which later forwarded it to EULEX and the Kosovo Special Prosecutor's Office.
The Medicus clinic, just outside of Pristina, is also linked to a December 2010 Council of Europe report made by the Swiss Senator Dick Marty, which alleged that elements of the Kosovo Liberation Army traded the organs of prisoners during the 1999 conflict.
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