Murder for organs: Allegations target Kosovo leader

Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

I just reviewed an investigative draft report By the Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe (PACE).   PACE is a 47-nation group that investigates human rights issues. The organization’s draft investigative report alleges cases of humans who were murdered for their organs which were trafficked via Kosovo and Albania. The allegations point to Kosovo’s newly elected prime minister, the Albanian mob and the Kosovo Liberation Army.

In Pristina Tuesday, the Kosovo government denounced the draft report as baseless and defamatory.  It threatened legal and political action in response to the draft report’s release.  “The government of Kosovo and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci will undertake all the necessary steps and actions to dismiss the slanders of Dick Marty, including legal and political means,” it said in a statement.

PACE will hold a press conference in Paris this Thursday where more details will be discussed by case investigator Dick Marty.

PACE will hold a press conference in Paris Thursday where more details about the allegations will be discussed by case investigator Dick Marty.

According to NPR,  Marty is the  Swiss politician who led the European investigation into allegations that the CIA abducted and moved terrorism suspects across European borders after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The latest PACE draft report claims:

  • Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci is identified as the boss of a “mafia-like” off shoot of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) responsible for the smuggling of weapons, human organs and drugs through Eastern Europe.
  • The United States, other allied Western powers and European Union-backed justice authorities possess the same documentation of the full extent of the crimes, but none seems prepared to react to hold the perpetrators accountable.
  • In the months directly after the declared end of the Kosovo conflict in June 1999, members and affiliates of the KLA purportedly delivered scores of persons they had abducted into secret detention on Albanian territory.
  • There was at least one custom-built element to the post-conflict network of detention facilities.  It constituted a state-of-the-art reception center for the organized crime of organ trafficking.  It was styled as a makeshift operating clinic, and it was the site at which some of the captives held by KLA members and affiliates had their kidneys removed against their will.  According to our sources, the ringleaders of this criminal enterprise then shipped the human organs out of Albania and sold them to private overseas clinics as part of the international “black market” of organ-trafficking for transplantation.
  • The captives were victims of enforced disappearance: none has been seen, heard of or accounted for, since being abducted from Kosovo, in the weeks and months directly after 12  June 1999.
  • As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the “safe house” individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.
  • The surgical procedures thereupon performed – cadaver kidney extractions, rather than surgeries on live donors – are the most common means through which donor organs and tissues are acquired for transplant purposes – except for the criminal method of obtaining the cadavers. Eminent organ transplantation experts whom we have consulted during our inquiry described these procedures to us as efficient and low-risk.

the PACE draft investigation claims Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci is the boss of a "mafia-like" off shoot of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) responsible for the smuggling of weapons, human organs and drugs through Eastern Europe.

The Associated Press reports: “[The] investigation of the KLA’s alleged trade in organs stemmed from a book by U.N. War Crimes tribunal prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, based on information she said she received from Western journalists.”

Those Western journalists, according to the PACE draft report, were a team of investigative journalists working for the US-based documentary producers “American Radio Works.”  The journalists findings were summed up in a confidential internal memo submitted to the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in 2003.

Still happening today?

Police officials said that the Medicus clinc in Pristina, Kosovo, was secretly transformed by Dr. Lutfi Dervishi into a hub for illegal organ transplants. Photo: Visar Kryeziu/Associated Press

The PACE report adds:

In the course of our inquiry we have uncovered certain items of information that go some way beyond our findings as presently reported.  This information appears to depict a broader, more complex organised criminal conspiracy to source human organs for illicit transplant, involving co-conspirators in at least three different foreign countries besides Kosovo, enduring over more than a decade.

In particular, we found a number of credible, convergent indications that the organ-trafficking component of the post-conflict detentions described in our report is closely related to the contemporary case of the Medicus Clinic, not least through prominent Kosovar Albanian and international personalities who feature as co-conspirators in both.

However, out of respect for the ongoing investigations and judicial proceedings being led by EULEX / the Office of the Special Prosecutor of Kosovo, we feel obliged at this moment to refrain from publishing our findings in this regard.

The latest on the Medicus Clinic investigation:  Click here

Stay tuned!

About Bernard McCoy

My views are my own and not a reflection of my employer. I'm a professor of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I've also been a working journalist for the past 29 years. I have covered news stories in war zones, reported on human and natural disasters, presidential conventions, a presidential inauguration and the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. My career experiences include work as an award-winning documentary producer, television news reporter, photographer, producer, and anchor. I worked at WIBW-TV, Topeka, KS., KCTV, Kansas City, MO, WKBD-TV, Detroit, MI., WILX-TV, Lansing, MI. and WBNS-TV, Columbus, OH. I have also worked as a contributing reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, Associated Press, CBS, CNN, the Ohio News Network and lecture at the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communications. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in telecommunications management from Michigan State University.
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