News 13 Feb 13

Kosovo Organ Trafficking Witness Recalls Surgery Con

The witness whose kidney was removed at a Pristina clinic told the trial of seven Albanians accused of illegally selling organs that he was never paid the money he was promised.

Edona Peci

The protected witness, a Ukrainian codenamed P.M., told the court in Pristina on Tuesday that he was promised 30, 000 US dollars for his kidney but never received the money after the surgery.

He said he learned about the possibility of being paid for the organ transplant via the internet, expressed his interest by email and was contacted by an unknown person who spoke to him in Russian.

He said that an electronic plane ticket was sent to him in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, which he used to travel via Istanbul to Pristina at the beginning of September 2008.

His kidney was then removed during an operation at a clinic in Pristina.

But the witness could not give the clinic’s exact name or remember what any of the medical personnel at the clinic were called.

“In the evening [after his arrival in Pristina] they invited me to see the person who would conduct the surgery. He was approximately 50 years old,” the witness said.

“Half a year after [the surgery] I saw an article on the internet saying this person was wanted… The article said he was Turkish. I remember his moustache and short hair,” he added.

But, he couldn’t confirm whether it was Dr. Yusuf Sonmez, a Turkish doctor allegedly involved in the organ trafficking case, even after a photo of Sonmez was shown to him by the EU rule of law mission prosecutor at the Pristina trial, Jonathan Ratel.

“I see a man with glasses, but I can’t remember,” the witness said.

The case focuses on allegations that poor donors and rich recipients were brought to the Medicus clinic in Kosovo where illegal kidney transplants were carried out.

Seven Albanian defendants are being prosecuted in Pristina, including Lutfi Dervishi, the owner of the Medicus clinic.

According to the indictment, 30 illegal kidney transplants took place at the clinic.

Poor people from various countries were allegedly lured to the clinic with the false promise that they would receive up to 15,000 euro for their kidneys.

Two Turkish doctors, Sonmez and Kenan Demirkol, are also accused of being involved in the organ trafficking ring.

Sonmez was arrested in Istanbul in January 2011 but was later released on bail.

But Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor said on Tuesday that Sonmez had absconded to South Africa and then moved on to another, unnamed African country that does not recognise the EU rule of law mission’s jurisdiction in Kosovo and therefore will not extradite the Turkish doctor to Pristina.

War crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic told Serbian media that Sonmez had “set up a clinic for organ transplants” in the unnamed African country.

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