news 06 Jul 17

Kosovo Organ-Trafficking Retrial Opens in Pristina

The retrial of three men originally convicted of involvement in organ-trafficking from the Medicus clinic near the Kosovo capital began at Pristina Basic Court.

Die Morina, Arita Gerxhaliu
Lutfi Dervishi and Sokol Hajdini at Pristina Basic Court on Thursday. Photo: BIRN.

The retrial of Medicus clinic owner Lutfi Dervishi, his son Arban Dervishi and head anesthetist Sokol Hajdini, all accused of involvement in organised crime in connection with people-trafficking, started at Pristina Basic Court on Thursday after a Supreme Court ruling overturned the original verdict.

But Arban Dervishi, who was the manager of the Medicus clinic and is currently on the run, did not appear in court.

"I have neither been contacted by him, nor did I make any minimal effort to contact him…I do not know where he is," said his lawyer Petrit Dushi.

However, the lawyer said that Arban Dervishi’s family had told him that he would appear in court on one condition.

“Arban Dervishi will only come back if the court decides not to imprison him, but put him under house arrest,” Dushi said.

The court refused the request and decided to separate Arban Dervishi’s case from the others.

Therefore the case will continue with just his father Lutfi Dervishi and Sokol Hajdini in the dock.

“It is important that no indicted individuals can negotiate with the court about such requests,” said presiding judge Francesca Fischer.

The appeals court upheld their original convictions in March 2016, jailing Lutfi Dervishi and his son for eight years and Hajdini for five.

The ruling said found that “multiple illegal kidney transplants” took place at the clinic in 2008.

Poor people from Turkey, Russia, Moldova and Kazakhstan were allegedly 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 then that transplant recipients, mainly Israelis, paid more than 70,000 euro for the kidneys.

But after the appeals court ruling, Kosovo’s Supreme Court ordered a retrial on the basis of procedural irregularities.

Police initially raided the Medicus clinic in 2008 after a Turkish man whose kidney had been removed was found seriously ill at Pristina airport.

Investigators closed down the clinic in 2008, and it has since been sold.

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