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The Kosovo organ theft/trafficking or Serbian Organ Harvesting is an alleged atrocity of organ theft and killing of at least 300 ethnic Serbs during and after the Kosovo War in 1999, committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army.[1][2] This is not related to the previous case of Croats extracting organs from Serbian victims[2][3]. The first allegations were made in the book The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals, written by Carla Del Ponte (former ICTY chief prosecutor) in which she claims that Kosovo Albanians smuggled human organs of kidnapped Serbs after the Kosovo war ended in 1999, the accusations being backed by her own visit at the site (Del Ponte saw blood and surgical equipment[1]) several witnesses involved in and out of the ICTY, one of whom "personally made an organ delivery" to an Albanian airport for transport abroad, and "confirmed information directly gathered by the tribunal". Carla Del Ponte concludes that if the case was opened before the Kosovo Albanian declaration of independence, the international community would not have the same stance on the Kosovo question[1][4]

The investigation was re-launched on March 21, 2008, by War Crimes Prosecution of Serbia just in head of the release of the book on April 3, 2008. The prosecutors claim they have enough evidence "to search the whole of Albania" for mass-graves of Serbs.[5] The EU rule-of-law mission uncovered no evidence to back these claims up while no evidence was presented by the Serbian government.[6]

First allegations

After American journalist Michael Montgomery heard of the allegations after the Kosovo War, he contacted the UN. It was never looked into seriously.

The Serb prisoners were allegedly trafficked in trucks from Kosovo to a KLA camp in Kukes and then northern Albania (to the village of Gur, Albania, Rripe near Burrel, Mat District[7]) during and after the Kosovo War. The illegal operations were performed (while the prisoners were alive) in Building/Prison #320[7], 20 km from the "Yellow House" mentioned as the site of the acts by former Hague Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte.[2]

Building/Prison 320 is a neuro-psychiatric clinic. We believe that surgical operations were carried out there on civilians, as the conditions existed for such a thing. There was a prisoner camp there, as well as a KLA camp...

...It differs markedly from what the Albanian prosecutor has been saying, who shut the case back in 2005.

—Serbian War Crimes Prosecution spokesman, [2]

.

It is also believed by the Serbian Government that the prisoners were prepared for operations in the "yellow house", but were re-located when International humanitarian aid such as the Red Cross came by. A large portion of surgical equipment was discovered near the houses, inside and outside, such as heavy drugs, needles and tubes used for surgical procedures. When BBC investigated the house, the reply from the family that owns the house and land was that "the father and son in the family used the equipment, since ambulance is far away from here..." and "the local medic dumps his euqipment here..."[8]

The victims were deprived of vital organs and then sewn up, only to be operated on again when other organs were needed for export[4].

The B92 Serbian radio allegedly has documents revealing that Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha was asked by the KLA leader and former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj (His involvement in the organ theft is strengthened by Carla Del Ponte[1]) to send security forces to destroy all evidence connected to the disappearance and organ harvesting of Serbs from Kosovo that were transported to Albania.[7]

An additional 40 mental patients from Stimlje are thought to be victims of the Organ theft as well[9].

Hashim Thaci, the Kosovo Albanian leader, on the question why KLA made terrible actions such as organ trafficking after the war, replied that "people from different parts, used the uniforms of the KLA, but we have distanced ourselves from these people, the misuse was minimal"[8]

Investigation

Serbia has urged Albania to cooperate and in late October 2008, Albanian officials replied that the charges were already investigated by UN and Carla Del Ponte and that the Serbian Government had no new evidence.[10]

On November 14, UNMIK has let Serbia's War Crimes Prosecutors join their side in a new investigation about the yellow house[11].

On November 20, ICTY (The Hague Tribunal) started cooperating with Serbia on the case. Serbia has received important information from Serge Brammertz (current ICTY chief), evidence of the alleged operation house in northern Albania, but the Albanian side wish not to cooperate. A report shows that seven points are confirmed in the allegations and that the Albanian prosecutor and UNMIK had failed to tell the truth when investigating the findings of different surgical equipment[12].

In November, 2008, several men were arrested after a bust on a Organ trafficking ring in Pristina after a Turkish national was questioned by the Kosovo Police. Two urologists and a manager working in the Medikus clinic, none of whom are qualified for surgical operations, only check-ups, were leading a business from their clinic that lasted from 1998 until their bust in late 2008. They did not wish to comment a connection between the Kosovo Serbs organs and the Medikus clinic[13].

In August, 2009, representatives of the Council of Europe under Swiss senator Dick Marty were prevented to search houses relating to the case by the local Albanians in the village of Rripe. The mass said that they would not let anybody other than from the Albanian government to investigate the case. The Albanian and Kosovo authorities stated they will not look into the case.[14]

In December, 2009, sources say that four Czech citizens that went missing during the Kosovo War were likely to have been victims of the Organ harvesting, also, 3 Albanian men were arrested in northern Albania after 35 kilograms of heroin were found and evidence of the third being a human trafficker. Names that previously have been in connection with the Organ theft case were mentioned once again and several countries in the EU are to investigate the case further. The Serbian War Crime Prosecution have said that new evidence have been found and that the investigation is ongoing[15]. The Council of Europe is still interested in the case and embassies are sending in their data to the War Crimes commitée and new potential witnesses have been found that could "open up the case in the real sense of the word"[16].

New progress as of December 27, 2009, are names of several operators of the yellow house being uncovered, as well as further non-Serb victims; Russians and Czechs. The organs were sold "in the West and East, in Turkey, Saudi Arabia…”[17].

On December 14. 2010 leaked report by Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty directly accused Hashim Thaci Kosovo's prime minister to be the head of a "mafia-like" Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe. His report will be presented to Council of Europe Foreign relations committee on December 16. 2010 and is expected to be on agenda of Session of Council of Europe in late January.[18][19]

Interview with the owners of the "yellow house"

I’m telling you that it was only in 2001 that we painted it white, and only one strip on the ground level, one meter high, was yellow. I’m telling you how it was, if you don’t want me to, then leave! I’m telling you when and the reasons why! We had a wedding, we painted the house white, and at the bottom we left a yellow strip
—Dashuri Katuqi, granddaughter of the owner

The Hague War Tribunal investigated the house, finding blood stains on the floor and walls of one of the rooms in the "yellow house". The residents initially denied the existence of any bloodstains, before, later, offering a variety of explanations. The owner, Abdulah Katuqi, claims that two children were born in the room in question. The housemates claim that the births took place in 1990 or 1991. The traces of blood was found in 2004 by using fluorescent lights. They also said that the room contained the blood of animals that they had “slaughtered outside, and had cut the meat up inside.”[7]

Continuing Investigation

Proof of prison camps in Albania where Albanians disloyal to KLA as well as Serbian civilians were tortured was found in a hotel in Kukes. Both dead and alive Serbians were transported across the border from Serbia into Albania by KLA, witnesses who claimed this are either dead or missing. A team led by Matti Raatikainen discovered blood and surgical tools in the basement of the "Yellow House", however the investigation was halted before it started. In total, around 13,500 civilians are believed to be killed[20].

In addition, the Albanian government is trying to prevent inquiries into KLA war crimes and the organ trade[21], even after proof of surgical procedures in the yellow house in the village of Burel was presented to them. Albanian officials believe that the allegations are not credible, while the impartial NGO Human Rights Watch believes otherwise[22], that simple harvesting on kidneys could have been easily performed even without surgical tools, although many were found at the scene.

2010 Report to the Council of Europe

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On the 12 December 2010, a report from Dick Marty to the Council of Europe was prereleased,[23] alleging that the Republic of Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci was the head of a "mafia-like" group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe.[24] This article made waves across the world and led to a series of similar reports.[25][26][27]

In response, the EU and the EULEX announced that they take the report very seriously and called for evidence.[28]

Thaci denied these allegations. His associates announced they would file a lawsuit against Marty.[29]

The Swiss foreign ministry noted that Marty's report contained "grave accusations made on the basis of countless witness accounts and evidence." [30]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Gorin, Julia (April 11, 2008). "Coverup on Serbian-Organ Harvesting: 'Pro-American' Kosovo Prime Minister Thaci Oversaw the Scheme". The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julia-gorin/coverup-on-serbian-organ_b_96272.html. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "300 hostages had organs removed". B92. 2008.11.06. http://www.b92.net/eng/news/crimes-article.php?yyyy=2008&mm=11&dd=06&nav_id=54791. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  3. Gorin, Julia (May 11 2008). "Albanians Weren’t the First to Steal Serb Organs (Warning: Graphic Images toward End)". Republican Riot. http://www.juliagorin.com/wordpress/?p=1527. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 de Quetteville (Berlin), Harry; Malcolm Moore (Rome) (11 Apr 2008). "Serb prisoners 'were stripped of their organs in Kosovo war'". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1584751/Serb-prisoners-'were-stripped-of-their-organs-in-Kosovo-war'.html. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  5. Bilefsky, Dan (August 4, 2009). "Serbs' Claim of Kosovo Organ Ring Is Investigated". NY Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9800EFDB1130F937A3575BC0A96F9C8B63&scp=1&sq=Serbs%27%20Claim%20of%20Kosovo%20Organ%20Ring%20Is%20Investigated&st=cse. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  6. Marzouk, Lawrence (7 May 2010). "EULEX Uncovers No Evidence KLA Trafficked Organs". Balkan Insight.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "New allegations in organ trafficking case". B92 (BELGRADE, TIRANA). 28 October 2008. http://www.b92.net/eng/news/crimes-article.php?yyyy=2008&mm=10&dd=28&nav_id=54543. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  8. 8.0 8.1 BBC, 090409, Michael Montgomery, Kosovo Organ trafficking case
  9. "Were Kosovo patients slain for organs?". Maclean's. 2008/11/24. http://www2.macleans.ca/2008/11/24/were-kosovo-patients-slain-for-organs/. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  10. "Albanians refuse meeting in organ removal probe". Reuters. August 10, 2009. http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSLA494858.
  11. "UNMIK to investigate “yellow house”". B92. http://www.b92.net/eng/news/crimes-article.php?yyyy=2008&mm=11&dd=14&nav_id=55007. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  12. "Hague, Serbia cooperating on organ trafficking probe". B92. http://www.b92.net/eng/news/crimes-article.php?yyyy=2008&mm=11&dd=21&nav_id=55181. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  13. "Doctors who Harvested Serbs’ Organs Arrested?". Dalje.com. November 6, 2008. http://www.javno.com/en-world/doctors-who-harvested-serbs-organs-arrested_200692. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  14. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LA494858.htm[dead link]
  15. "New details in Kosovo organ trade case". B92. http://www.b92.net/eng/news/crimes-article.php?yyyy=2009&mm=12&dd=01&nav_id=63422. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  16. "New witnesses in organ trafficking case?". B92. http://www.b92.net/eng/news/crimes-article.php?yyyy=2009&mm=12&dd=09&nav_id=63620. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  17. "Prosecutor: Names uncovered in “yellow house” case". B92. http://www.b92.net/eng/news/crimes-article.php?yyyy=2009&mm=12&dd=27&nav_id=64057. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  18. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/14/kosovo-prime-minister-llike-mafia-boss
  19. http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2010&mm=12&dd=14&nav_id=71512
  20. Nick Thorpe. "End of the road for Kosovo organ claims?". BBC News. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10166800.
  21. "UN says Albania 'stalling' Serb human organs inquiry". BBC Online. 23 February 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8531289.stm. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  22. "European Union probing Balkan organ trade". MSN (Rripe, Albania). 5-3-2009. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30541817/ns/world_news-europe. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  23. http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/APFeaturesManager/defaultArtSiteView.asp?ID=964
  24. Lawis, Paul. "Kosovo PM is head of human organ and arms ring, Council of Europe reports". Kosovo PM is head of human organ and arms ring, Council of Europe reports. Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/14/kosovo-prime-minister-llike-mafia-boss. Retrieved 16 December 2010.
  25. "Kosovo must probe organ harvesting accusation, official says - CNN.com". CNN. http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/12/16/kosovo.organs/?hpt=T2. Retrieved 16 December 2010.
  26. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2010/12/20101215102540433371.html
  27. http://www.freitag.de/politik/1050-der-mythos-des-liberalen-interventionismus
  28. http://diepresse.com/home/politik/aussenpolitik/618705/OrganhandelVorwurf-gegen-Thaci_EU-fordert-Beweise?_vl_backlink=%2Fhome%2Fpolitik%2Findex.do
  29. http://zdravlje.b92.net/eng/news/in_focus.php?id=91&start=0&nav_id=70827
  30. http://zdravlje.b92.net/eng/news/in_focus.php?id=91&start=0&nav_id=70827

External links

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