News 14 Feb 12

Serbia Asks about Evidence Destruction in Organ Trafficking Case

Serbian authorities have asked the Hague tribunal to clarify reports about the destruction of evidence linked to allegations of organ trafficking in Kosovo.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

Rasim Ljajic, the head of Serbia's council for cooperation with the tribunal, has written to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and to the tribunal's chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz and president Theodor Meron to ask for an investigation into the reports.

"We have been informed that these pieces of evidence were destroyed in 2005, and now the blame is being shifted from one to another at the tribunal, and we want to know what exactly happened,” Ljajic told news agency Tanjug on Monday.

Ljajic sent his official letters last Friday and has not yet received any response, according to his office.

The prosecutor's office at the tribunal was not available for comment on Tuesday.

Former chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte was quoted in a recent interview with Belgrade-based daily Press as saying that the current prosecutor knows who destroyed the evidence and that a lot of obstacles were placed in the way of her investigation into the case.

“NATO and UNMIK didn’t allow us to access to important documents on Kosovo, while Albania didn’t let us enter its territory,” said Del Ponte.

However, Brammertz has been quoted as saying that he has no information about the destruction of evidence and that only Del Ponte could shed light on the matter, as it allegedly happened during her time in office.

The case of organ trafficking in Kosovo is currently being investigated by the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, EULEX.

A report by the Council of Europe issued in December 2010 contained allegations that in 1999 and 2000 members of the Kosovo Liberation Army kidnapped Serbs and others, imprisoned and killed them in northern Albania and harvested their body parts for sale on the black market.

Serbia tried to place the investigation once again under the auspices of the United Nations at a U.N. Security Council meeting on February 8 but member states did not reach consensus on the issue.

 

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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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