News 02 Sep 14

Serbia Locates Alleged Organ Trafficking Doctor

The Serbian authorities say that doctor Yusuf Sonmez, who is accused by the EU rule-of-law of mission in Kosovo of people trafficking and organised crime, has been located in Amsterdam.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade
Yusuf Sonmez in 2011, during a previous arrest. Photo: Beta.

Serbia's office for war crimes prosecution said on Tuesday that organ trafficking suspect Sonmez, originally from Turkey, had been located in Amsterdam in The Netherlands last week.

“This information was passed to the EU chief prosecutor, Jonathan Ratel,” the Serbian prosecution office said.

Sonmez and an Israeli national, Moshe Harel, are accused of people trafficking and organised crime by the EU rule-of-law mission, 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.

EULEX says Sonmez was a key figure involved in trafficking in human organs at the Medicus clinic in Pristina. He was arrested in Istanbul in January 2011 but released on bail.

EULEX prosecutor Allen Cansick last year said that EULEX believed that Harel was in Israel, while “the mission has information that Sonmez is travelling around the world”.

Last April, 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.

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.

Sonmez and Harel, both suspected of collaborating with the convicted men, had already absconded and have not been seen in Kosovo since.

The Serbian prosecution claims Sonmez was also part of a group that Belgrade claims harvested organs of Serbs abducted during the Kosovo conflict in the so-called “Yellow house” in Albania in 1999.

The Medicus clinic was also mentioned in a 2011 Council of Europe report, which alleged that former fighters in the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, some 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 allegations in July said that its findings were consistent with what was said 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,” the chief prosecutor of the EU task force, Clint Williamson, said.

It is not yet clear whether anyone will be indicted on these charges before 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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