Serbia investigates alleged organ harvesting

By Igor Jovanovic

Serbian war crimes prosecutors are investigating three separate cases based on the Council of Europe report by rapporteur Dick Marty, a spokesman told SETimes.

“I can only say that we have gone further in that investigation than Marty, but I cannot disclose any details,” Bruno Vekaric said. “We gathered a lot of evidence, including witness testimonies, and discovered the identities of certain victims.”

The prosecutor’s office says it suspects that as many as 500 people were subjected to organ harvesting — about 400 Serbs and 100 other non-Albanians. Three years ago, Serbian prosecutors called for co-operation with their Albanian colleagues, but no joint investigation was ever launched.

Two of the three cases allegedly involve Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, a former leader of the now disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The Serbian prosecutors say they are investigating possible crimes involving Fatmir Limaj, a former Thaci associate who faces charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

“That case is being processed with The Hague’s consent, since Limaj is indicted by the tribunal,” Vekaric said. Thaci has rejected the allegations in Marty’s report, describing them as the work of a “well-planned anti-independence club aiming to harm the image of Kosovo”.

“Dick Marty must get good lawyers, if he can find any to defend him, because under no circumstances will Marty escape justice for this slander,” Thaci said in an interview with Reuters. He said the claims were already investigated by UNMIK, the ICTY and and EULEX, and no evidence of wrongdoing was found.

“The aim of this report is to harm the image of Kosovo, its people and all Albanians in this region, slow down the recognition of Kosovo’s independence, block the start of talks between Kosovo and Serbia, and delay the establishment of new institutions,” the prime minister said.

The Kosovo Chamber of Lawyers in Pristina sounded a similar note.

“The report has no evidence and the Chamber is offering legal and professional support to everyone mentioned … to find facts and protect their dignity,” said Musa Dragusha, the head of the Chamber.

Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic wants answers.

“Serbia expects a thorough investigation of allegations from the report by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe rapporteur, Dick Marty, on the inhumane treatment of people and human organ trafficking in Kosovo,” Cvetkovic said in a news release issued after his Saturday (December 18th) meeting with Albanian Deputy Prime Minister Ilir Meta.

It is not yet known whether EULEX is considering an investigation against Thaci.

“[The mission] encourages everyone with concrete evidence on the claims presented in the report to hand over that evidence to appropriate authorities,” EULEX spokesperson Karin Limdal has said.

Muhamet Brashori in Pristina contributed to this article.

SETimes

The Southeast European Times Web site is a central source of news and information about Southeastern Europe in ten languages: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, English, Greek, Macedonian, Romanian, Serbian and Turkish. The Southeast European Times is sponsored by the US European Command, the joint military command responsible for US operations in 52 countries. EUCOM is committed to promoting stability, co-operation and prosperity in the region.

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