News / Europe

Kosovo PM Named in Human Organ Scandal

Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci makes his first public appearance since he was allegedly accused in Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty's report for organ trafficking in Pristina on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010. Marty rocked Kosovo with his allegation
Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci makes his first public appearance since he was allegedly accused in Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty's report for organ trafficking in Pristina on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010. Marty rocked Kosovo with his allegation

Multimedia

Henry Ridgwell

In a political bombshell for the Balkans, Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has been named in a European report as the head of a 'mafia-like' crime organization - accused of drug dealing, assassinations and organ smuggling. The allegations threaten to derail Kosovo's efforts to gain fully-recognized independence and could have a major impact on the country's relations with the West.  

The report claims that at remote bases like this so-called 'Yellow House' in Albania, members of the Kosovo Liberation Army killed up to 500 prisoners and removed their organs, so they could be sold to international buyers on the black market.

The report's author, Council Of Europe Rapporteur Dick Marty, says the crimes were covered up after the Kosovo war. "It was known by numerous people who privately would tell you: 'well yes, we know but for reasons of political opportunity we have decided or we feel we have the duty to keep quiet'," he said.

The report even names Kosovo's Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, as the head of the criminal gang that profited from the organ trade and that also carried out assassinations and drug trafficking. Thaci's party is still celebrating its win in Sunday's election. He says the claims are an attempt to slander the country's leaders.

"The scandalous report of the member of the European Council parliamentary assembly, Dick Marty, is a document filled with slanders and lies, which recycles 15 years old propaganda," he said.

Serbia has welcomed the Council of Europe report.  Serb forces withdrew from Kosovo after a NATO bombing campaign in 1999.  Seventy-two countries have since recognised Kosovo's independence, although Serbia still disputes the claim.

James Ker-Lindsay of the London School of Economics has written a book on Kosovo's efforts to gain independence.  He says the accusations have the potential to derail that progress.

"I think that this is going to make it a lot more difficult for supporters of Kosovo's independence to gain more recognitions.  And also we have questions about political dialogue with Belgrade.  The Serbian government has said it's still interested in talking, but if these allegations are investigated and there's a case to answer, I think it's going to be very difficult for the Serbian government to continue talking with Thaci," he said.

The report claims that criminal gangs continued to harvest organs after the war at this clinic near Pristina. And in fact, in a currently-ongoing court case, seven people are on trial for trading in the organs of people living in extreme poverty.  Prosecutors claim poor people from Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey were offered up to $20,000 for their organs, but were never paid.

Surgeon Lutfi Dervishi is alleged to be the ringleader of the group.  The Council of Europe report also links him to the Kosovo Liberation Army's alleged kidnapping and killing of Serb civilians for their organs. He denies the charges.

The prosecutor in the current case,  Jonathan Ratel, says there are good reasons why Kosovo appears to be a hub for the illegal organ trade. "Post-conflict states, where clinics can be set up quickly, the rule of law or the legal regime or the health regime is weak, and persons can exploit that. The opportunity for exploitation of persons by trafficking is immense," he said.

The Council of Europe has tabled the report for discussion next month and will decide then whether to launch a criminal investigation into the allegations against Prime Minister Thaci.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid