Kosovo: Bear Cubs Destined for Refuge ‘Killed for Organs’

by 1389 on May 30, 2013

in 1389 (blog admin), animals, Kosovo, organ trafficking

‘Killing for organs’ in Kosovo certainly has a familiar ring to it. Now it’s ‘bear cubs’. Before, humans.

Balkan Insight has the story:

Environment Ministry demands vigorous prosecution following the killings of two bears that were about to start new lives at a refuge.

By Petrit Collaku, BIRN, Pristina

Kosovo’s Ministry of the Environment is calling on the authorities to aggressively prosecute the suspected killers of two brown bears that were about to be relocated to a refuge.

Police said the bears were killed for their gallbladders, which can fetch high prices in China, Japan and elsewhere in Asia.

Four suspects, one from Kosovo and three from Albania, were arrested in connected with the killing of the year-old cubs last week.

But the suspects were fined only 150 to 200 euro each and then released, pending prosecution.

The Ministry, which had been spearheading the planned relocation of the bears to a refuge outside Pristina, condemned the killing and what it called an unacceptably light punishment for the accused perpetrators.

“We will follow all the possible legal ways and seek the maximum punishment allowed by law against these people, Minister Daradan Gashi said.

“We consider this to be a cruel murder and destruction of the national property of Kosovo,” Gashi added.

The ministry has filed a complaint with the Pristina Appellate Court after a judge in Mitrovica downgraded the charges from felonies to basic crimes.

Police uncovered the killings after a citizen reported finding two bearskins in a landfill on Mitrovica’s outskirts.

The two bears had been kept as an attraction at the Krapi restaurant in Mitrovica.

They were to be relocated to a new refuge operated by the Four Paws organisation near Lake Badovac.

The Ministry of Environment and Four Paws initially planned to bring 15 bears living in cages at restaurants and small zoos throughout Kosovo to the open-air refuge.
Missing words have been relocated there thus far.

Mirdi Osmani, who owns the Krapi restaurant with his brother, said they were aware of the plans of the Ministry and Four Paws to take the bears.

But Osmani told Pristina Insight that he and his brother sold the bears to an animal trader because the animals had become dangerous.

“They were a risk to the workers and small children, so we sold them,” said Osmani who would not reveal how much he and his brother were paid.

The Ministry and the NGO, he said, should have gotten the bears sooner.

“I contacted the people (at Four Paws) but they told me they still didn’t have a place ready… so I couldn’t wait any longer,” Osmani said.

He maintained that he did not know the bears would be killed. He said the buyer told him the bears would go to another restaurant, in Prishtina.

Four Paws could not be reached for comment. But Gezime Hasani, spokeswoman of the Ministry of the Environment, said the ministry had been in touch with Osmani’s brother, Bahri, and had told him to improve the bears’ living conditions in the meantime.

“We gave Osmani 30 days to improve conditions for the bears. He didn’t do this and we planned to confiscate them,” Hasani said.

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