EU Prosecutors Attempting to Locate More Victims of Kosovo Organ-Trafficking Crimes

by 1389 on February 10, 2012

in 1389 (blog admin), European Union, Israel, Kosovo, organ trafficking, Turkey

Investigation of illegal trafficking in human bodily organs in Kosovo has revealed more victims besides the Serbs who were kidnapped, killed, and butchered for their organs during the Kosovo War and its aftermath. Once the supply of Serb victims ran out, the criminals used fraud to obtain kidneys from desperately impoverished living donors, and transplanted those kidneys into unwitting recipients. The organ donors never received the promised financial recompense, but were simply dumped out after the surgery to fend for themselves.

Kosovo organ trade probe tracking victims abroad

AFP/Pristina

EU prosecutors in Kosovo trying seven people accused of organ trafficking in a landmark case said yesterday that they had asked Russia, Ukraine, Israel and Turkey to help them identify victims of the scam.

“We have several requests for legal assistance out to many countries including most importantly the Russian Federation, Israel, Ukraine and Turkey, requesting legal assistance to identify and locate victim donors as a matter of urgency,” EU special prosecutor Jonathan Ratel told AFP.

The seven suspects are accused of organ trafficking and of being part of an organised crime ring in the so-called Medicus case, named after the Pristina clinic where the crimes allegedly took place.

The main defendants in the case, which is being heard before EU judges in a Pristina court and prosecuted by EU lawyers, are former Kosovo health secretary Ilir Rrecaj and Lutfi Dervishi, a prominent Pristina urologist.

Other suspects in the case include Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez, who is accused of having carried out illegal operations to remove organs, and Moshe Harel, an Israeli accused of recruiting and bringing the victims to Kosovo. They are both indicted in Turkey.

According to the indictment, the victims were recruited from poor eastern European and Central Asian countries. They were promised about 15,000 euros ($19,440) for organs, while recipients were charged up to 100,000 euros.

The charge sheet alleges that around 20 victims identified so far were not paid the promised amount for their organs but were left to their own devices after their kidneys were taken from them.

“They were literally cast aside at the airport. They were discarded as used material after the operation,” Ratel said.

The Medicus clinic was raided by police in 2008 after Turkish national Yilman Altun, 28, nearly collapsed at Pristina airport waiting for a flight back to Istanbul after donating a kidney to an Israeli man.

After that incident in Kosovo, Altun disappeared.

“He is still missing. And he is probably the most important witness,” Ratel said. “I need to find him. I need this witness.”

The prosecutor is also working with the US, Canada, Germany and Britain to find more victims.

“We are working aggressively with all those countries and pursuing that with everything we have, (so we can) locate and identify and have those victims as witnesses,” he said.

On Monday an American witness, New York store manager Joseph Koralashvili, testified via video-link how he had joined his late father Raphael from Israel on a trip to Kosovo to receive a kidney transplant in October 2008. “His kidneys were no longer functioning. That’s why he was very ill,” the 41-year-old said.

Koralashvili, whose father died three months ago from leukaemia, told the court that no one at the Medicus clinic had identified himself or herself as a doctor to him and his father during their six-day stay in Pristina.

“Did you know where that kidney your father received came from?” Ratel asked him by video link.

“No,” replied Kotalashvili whose testimony was secured with the help of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

It is the first such case with an international dimension tackled by the European rule of law mission EULEX, which has about 3,000 members and which was launched after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

The Medicus clinic was mentioned in the report of Council of Europe special rapporteur Dick Marty, who alleged that Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and some his associates from the ethnic Albanian guerrillas were involved in organised crime and organ trafficking during the 1998-1999 war with Serbia.

However Ratel insisted that “there is no clear evidence of any link between the private clinic Medicus and any other allegation during the conflict at this time”.

Ratel is being deceptive here. Dick Marty’s report is well known, but the EULEX investigators are simply unwilling to investigate or publicize any cases where Serbs are the victims.


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