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News 05 Oct 11

Kosovo Medicus Case Suspects Plead Not Guilty

Four Kosovo doctors and an economist, implicated in an alleged organ trafficking ring, have pleaded not guilty at the beginning of the Medicus trial.

Fatmir Aliu

The case began yesterday and charged seven defendants with one or more counts of trafficking in persons, organised crime, unlawful exercise of medical activity and abusing official position or authority.

Urologist Lufti Dervishi, accused with being the ring-leader of the alleged activities, called on the District Court of Pristina to allow him to re-open his Medicus clinic in Pristina during his first appearance.

His lawyer, Linn Slattengren said: “The electricity bill is €5,300. My client is not able to pay for the electricity he spent. Therefore we request that the Medicus Clinic is granted permission to re-open.”

According to the indictment, 30 operations involving illegal kidney transplants were allegedly conducted at the Medicus clinic, which has been closed since the start of the investigation.

Kosovo and UNMIK police officers began their investigation at the clinic in 2008. In November of that year, the alleged criminal activity was broken after a young Turkish man was found weak and frail at Pristina airport.

The man allegedly told the police that his kidney had been stolen. When law enforcement raided the Medicus clinic they discovered an elderly Israeli man who had allegedly received the younger man’s kidney.

According to the indictment, the defendents are accused of luring people from slums in Istanbul, Moscow, Moldova and Kazakhstan with promises of up to €15,000 for their organs but many never received a cent.

Another surgeon, originally from Turkey, was charged with a role in the alleged trafficking of human organs. He has been arrested and bailed in his native Turkey. Yusuf Sonmez was arrested in Istanbul after he was charged along with eight others by EU prosecutors in Kosovo late last year. He is said to have previously denied organ trafficking and cannot be extradited to Kosovo due to native policy on extradition.

The trial is continuing today. The hearing is not open to the public.

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