News 14 Jun 12

Serbia and EULEX Join Efforts in Organ Trafficking Case

The cooperation between Serbia and EULEX on an organ trafficking that allegedly took place in Kosovo has been intensified, says the Serbian Office of War Crime Prosecutor.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

Clint Williamson, head of the EULEX special investigation team in charge of an organ trafficking case, visited Belgrade on Wednesday in order to exchange evidence related to the investigation with their Serbian counterparts, the Serbian State Prosecution told BIRN.

Williamson previously visited Belgrade in the end of March when, according to the Deputy Prosecutor for War Crimes, Bruno Vekaric, technical details of the cooperation were discussed.

Vekaric added that Serbia has significant evidence that confirms the existence of an organ trafficking scheme in Kosovo, which it passed on to EULEX.

Both the Serbian prosecution and Dick Marty, the Council of Europe's human rights rapporteur, claim that organ harvesting took place not just in Kosovo, but also in Albania.

Marty released a report in December 2010 linking former Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, fighters, including Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, to organised crime and accused them of harvesting the organs of Serbian prisoners and others in Albania.



Serbia also suspects that Fatmir Limaj, Kosovo MP and former commander of the KLA, and 28 other KLA fighters were involved in organ trafficking during the Kosovo war in 1998-1999.

It is expected that Marty will testify in the Medicus case on June 18. The case centres on allegations that the Kosovo-based clinic organised and carried out the sale and transplant of kidneys from poor donors to various wealthy clients.

Kosovo and Albania have denied the allegations but have agreed to participate with the international investigation into the claims.



Albania’s parliament passed a law in May this year, giving EULEX sweeping powers to investigate organ trafficking allegations, which has been greeted by the Serbian Prosecution.

“The unanimous approval of the Albanian Parliament to allow Williamson’s team to conduct an investigation in the territory of Albania is very important. I think it is a big step forward, because many traces of the crime lead to that country,” said Vladimir Vukcevic, Serbian Chief Prosecutor for War Crimes to Belgrade daily Danas.

However, it is still not clear in which country would the potential trial on the organ trafficking case take place. Williamson believes that the case will be forwarded to international courts and international judges.

“We are part of the EULEX justice system so maybe the trial will be conducted in Kosovo, but by international judges. There is also a possibility that a special court is formed just for this purpose,” said Williamson.

“This might be the only big war crime case that remains unsolved and it is hovering over the region. People who lost their loved ones [during the Kosov conflict] deserve to know the truth and they deserve justice,” he added.

 

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Background

Kosovo's Organ-Harvesting Controversy

Here is a sequence of events leading up to the organ-trafficking charges in Kosovo and the release of the Council of Europe report.

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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