News 16 Dec 10

Marty Calls for Investigation into Kosovo Organ Harvesting Allegations

Top human rights investigator Dick Marty blames Kosovo’s climate of fear and political opportunity for years of cover up.

Altin Raxhimi

Europe’s top human rights investigator has called for criminal investigations into allegations that a criminal network linked to Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci summarily executed prisoners and harvested their kidneys to sell for illicit organ transplants

“It is up to the authorities now to pursue that work of truth,” Swiss senator Dick Marty told journalists at a press conference in Paris.

He was speaking after a committee of the Council of Europe, the continent’s human rights body, approved his report alleging that a Kosovo Liberation Army group controlled by Thaci was responsible for the murder, torture and organ harvesting of ethnic Serbs and Albanians brought to Albania after NATO moved into Kosovo in June 1999.

Kosovo's government has denied the allegations, denouncing them as a smear campaign against the Kosovo Liberation Army and the Kosovo state.

Outgoing Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said in a press conference on Thursday evening that he and the government will initiate legal procedures against allegations in Dick Marty's report.

Marty, a former Swiss prosecutor, who spent more than two years conducting the investigation responded to reports that Thaci will sue him: "Thaci should sue the German police, the Italian secret services, the FBI, because his name appears in all of their reports".

He lashed out at what he called a climate of fear and political opportunity in Kosovo that allowed the alleged crimes to go uncovered and called for an end to what he described as a double standard – applying one set of justice for winners and another for losers.

“Most of the facts mentioned were known ... and there is a silencing of facts,” Marty told the press conference. “Those things were known to intelligence services of several countries. They were known to police services, to many people who told us in private, ‘Oh yes, we know this,’ but chose to remain silent for reasons of political opportunity.”

Marty said such investigations were not possible earlier because of the tightly-knit clan structures of Albanians, and because potential witnesses were scared to testify. He said his team had to convince witnesses that their security and confidentiality would be preserved in order to get them to talk.

Marty accused the Albanian authorities of shying away from the investigations, leaving the alleged crimes undicovered as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the European mission in Kosovo had no jurisdiction to investigate in Albania.

“The Albanian authorities told us, ‘we have no reason to investigate, because we were not party to the war, so our territory has nothing to do in this story,’” Marty said.

“It is now sufficiently proven that during this chaotic period between 1999 and 2000, from the end of the bombing and the establishment of the control of UNMIK, the KLA exercised the power in all the region and in this period the criminal actions took place,” he said. “EULEX has now a court case on a camp where people were held secretly and there were deaths, in Kukes, in North Albania. There are several sources that prove that the territory of Albania is involved.

“One of the taboo aspects Kosovars knew but never spoke about was that the KLA killed also Albanians, not only Serbs,” he said. “Kosovars who were considered collaborators because they had worked in the previous Serb administration, who were rivals. That is what constitutes a taboo and which hurts the KLA leaders more. This takes away the vainglory attributed to them.”

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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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