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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid