News 04 Sep 14

Dutch Hunt for Alleged Kosovo Organ Trafficking Doctor

Dutch police are seeking to arrest doctor Yusuf Sonmez, accused by EU prosecutors in Kosovo of organised crime and people trafficking from a Pristina clinic where organ-trading took place.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade
Yusuf Sonmez.

Dutch officers are attempting to detain Sonmez, a Turkish doctor accused of being a key figure involved in trafficking in human organs at the Medicus clinic in Pristina, after Kosovo informed them about his whereabouts, a source close to the investigation told BIRN on Thursday.

“We are waiting for the results of the search by our Dutch colleagues,” the source said.

Sonmez and an Israeli national, Moshe Harel, are accused of people trafficking and organised crime by the EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, and are listed as fugitives wanted by Interpol.

They have been on the run since the indictment against them was issued in June 2011.

Serbia’s office for war crimes prosecution said on Tuesday that organ trafficking suspect Sonmez, originally from Turkey, had been located in Amsterdam last week and that the information had been passed to the EU chief prosecutor in Kosovo.

EULEX’s chief spokesperson Miguel Carvalho de Faria confirmed to BIRN that the Serbian war crimes prosecutor had been in touch with Kosovo’s Special Prosecution Office, which was now “making the necessary inquiries with relevant authorities to ascertain the veracity of this information”.

In April last year, a Kosovo court convicted the owner of the Medicus clinic and four others of participating in an illegal organ-trading ring that harvested and sold human kidneys.

Sonmez and Harel, both suspected of collaborating with the convicted men, could not be prosecuted because they had already absconded.

The verdict said that around 30 illegal kidney transplants took place at the clinic in 2008.

Poor people from Turkey, Russia, Moldova and Kazakhstan were brought to the clinic after being assured that they would receive up to 15,000 euro for their kidneys.

The EULEX prosecutor in the case said that transplant recipients, mainly Israelis, paid more than 70,000 euro for the kidneys.

The Serbian prosecution also alleges that Sonmez was part of a group that Belgrade claims harvested organs of Serbs abducted during the Kosovo conflict at a building called the ‘Yellow House’ in Albania in 1999.

The Medicus clinic was also mentioned in a 2011 Council of Europe report which alleged that former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters, some of them now high-ranking politicians, traded in the organs of prisoners during the 1999 conflict.

An EU task force set up to investigate the Council of Europe report’s allegations said in July that its findings were consistent with what was claimed in 2011.

“There are compelling indications that this practice did occur on a very limited scale and that a small number of individuals were killed for the purpose of extracting and trafficking their organs,” said the chief prosecutor of the EU task force, Clint Williamson.

It is not yet clear whether anyone will be indicted on these charges at a special new court dealing with war crimes in Kosovo which will be established next year in The Netherlands.

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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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