Saturday, December 18, 2010


Organ Trafficking Charge Hits Kosovo


A human-rights investigator for the Council of Europe is calling for an international probe into allegations that former Kosovo guerrilla fighters killed some prisoners in order to sell their internal organs on the black market as chaos engulfed the southern Balkans in 1999.


Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, seen at a Pristina school in 2008.

There is "compelling evidence" that Kosovo Liberation Army members held captives at detention centers in neighboring Albania before singling out "a small, select group" for execution so that their kidneys could be sold, according to a draft report for the council's legislature.

The current Kosovo government, which includes former guerrilla leaders, denied the allegations. Bajram Rexhepi, Kosovo's Interior Minister, said the accusations were "unrealistic and stupid." A spokeswoman for Albania's prime minister declined to comment.

"These allegations should not be left unanswered. They have to be either confirmed or refuted through proper criminal investigation," Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary general of the 47-nation Council of Europe, said Wednesday.

The draft report, which expands on allegations made by former war-crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, of Switzerland, in a book published in 2008, was prepared by Swiss prosecutor-turned-politician Dick Marty, who also investigated for the council the existence of secret prisons in Europe run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Mr. Marty's findings—which are to be discussed Thursday by the human-rights committee of the council's Parliamentary Assembly—could cause trouble for the leadership in Kosovo, a newly independent country that is preparing for negotiations next year aimed at improving relations with its former political master, Serbia.

Mr. Marty alleges a wider range of misdeeds, including detainee abuse and score-settling among Kosovo's various Albanian factions. He also says alleged victims include ethnic Albanians and ethnic Serbs.

In his report, Mr. Marty alleges that some Kosovo politicians, including prime minister, Hashim Thaci, whose Democratic Party of Kosovo finished first in parliamentary elections Sunday, have links to organized crime. Kosovo's government dismissed that allegation as "slanderous."....more see;

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