A Turkish doctor said he wouldn’t give evidence in the trial of seven Albanians accused of harvesting and selling kidneys at a clinic near Pristina.
Dr. Kenan Demirkol was due to testify via a video link in front of the court in Pristina on Monday but declined to do so, saying that Turkish law gave him the right to refuse because he is a doctor.
The EU rule of law mission’s prosecutor told Demirkol that he must give evidence under an agreement for mutual cooperation in criminal matters between Kosovo and Turkey, but the video link was shut down by the Turkish side.
The case focuses on allegations that a group of people brought poor donors and rich recipients to the Medicus clinic in Kosovo where illegal kidney transplants were carried out.
Demirkol has already been prosecuted in Turkey for organ trafficking and a verdict is expected later this year.
Prosecutor Jonathan Ratel said that “in an indictment raised previously by the Turkish authorities in the same organ trafficking case, ‘Medicus’, Demirkol is accused of the transplant of organs together with [another Turkish doctor] Yusuf Sonmez”.
“Dr. Sonmez and Dr. Demirkol travelled together a numerous times to the clinic for organ transplants,” he said.
Seven Albanian defendants are being prosecuted in Pristina, including Lutfi Dervishi, the owner of the Medicus clinic.
According to the indictment, 30 illegal kidney transplants took place at the clinic.
Poor people were allegedly lured from Turkey, Russia, Moldova and Kazakhstan on the false promise that they would get up to 15,000 euro for their kidneys.
Ratel vowed to clear up the legal uncertainties and try to ensure that Demirkol testifies via video at another hearing.
Here is a sequence of events leading up to the organ-trafficking charges in Kosovo and the release of the Council of Europe report.
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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.
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.
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.