By Daily Mail Reporter
Kosovo’s prime minister was ‘a mafia boss who stole human organs from Serb prisoners and sold them for profit’
The prime minister of Kosovo ran a mafia-style crime ring that murdered Serbs and sold their kidneys on the black market, according to a report published yesterday.
Civilians detained by the Kosovo Liberation Army in the late 1990s were allegedly shot dead in northern Albania so their organs could be extracted and sold.
These atrocities took place after the war in Kosovo had ended in 1999, according to the report, prepared for Europe’s premier human rights watchdog.
Dick Marty, of the Council of Europe, took more than two years to compile his findings and claimed that there were a number of detention facilities in Albania, including a ‘state-of-the-art reception centre for the organised crime of organ trafficking’.
Kosovo’s current Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi is alleged to have headed the KLA-led Drenica Group in 1999 which organised beatings, murders and the organ-selling.
‘Thaçi and these other Drenica Group members are consistently named as “key players” in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organised crime,’ wrote Mr Marty.
‘We found that the Drenica Group had as its chief – or, to use the terminology of organised crime networks, its ‘boss’ – the renowned political operator and perhaps most internationally recognised personality of the KLA, Hashim Thaçi.’
The 55-page report states that in these facilities both Kosovan opponents of the KLA – who received U.S. backing – and Serbs were allegedly held once the hostilities in Kosovo were over in 1999.
Mr Marty, a Swiss senator, led a Council of Europe team of investigators to Kosovo and Albania in 2009, following allegations of organ trafficking by the KLA published in a book by former UN War Crimes tribunal prosecutor Carla Del Ponte.
The KLA led a guerrilla insurgency against Serbia in a 1998-99 war in which Belgrade lost control of the territory it considers the home of its Orthodox Christianity.
The report says the captives had their blood drawn and tested to help determine whether their organs would be suitable for transplant, and were examined ‘by men referred to as ‘doctors’ in the towns of Rripe and Fushe-Kruje.
During his 2007 trip to Albania, then-U.S. President George W. Bush visited Fushe-Kruje.
Marty said his findings were based on testimonies of ‘KLA insider sources’ such as drivers, bodyguards, and other ‘fixers’ involved in logistical and practical tasks, as well as ‘organisers,’ or the ringleaders behind the lucrative organ trade.
The report, however, does not name any of the sources, or the number of people who were allegedly killed in the process.
The accounts pointed to ‘a methodology by which all of the captives were killed, usually by a gunshot to the head, before being operated on to remove one or more of their organs,’ the report said.
The report alleges that the captives were first taken to a house in Albania run by an ethnic Albanian with ties to KLA’s leadership.
When the surgeons were ready, KLA gunmen would shoot the captives – and their corpses were quickly taken to an operating clinic, it said.
Marty did not specify how many people were killed for their organs, but said the ‘filtering’ process allegedly ended in Fushe-Kruje where ‘the small, select group of KLA captives who were brought this far met their death.’
Marty says that Fushe-Kruje was selected for its proximity to Albania’s main international airport, which ‘therefore offered accessibility for incoming international visitors and outgoing shipments alike’.
The report also pointed to ‘a small but inestimably powerful group of KLA personalities’ known as the Drenica Group whose ‘boss’ was Kosovo’s current prime minister.
The investigator said his team’s firsthand sources ‘credibly implicated’ some KLA leaders and members of Thaci’s inner circle for ‘having ordered – and in some cases personally overseen – assassinations, detentions, beatings and interrogations in various parts of Kosovo.’
Kosovo’s government described Marty’s allegation as ‘slanderous’, and part of an attempt to ‘obstruct’ Thaci, whose party this month won Kosovo’s first election since it declared independence from Serbia – in a vote tainted by claims of fraud.
The government said in the statement it would take all necessary legal and political means to counter Marty’s ‘fabrications’ and urged Council of Europe members to oppose the report.
Meanwhile, Serbia’s deputy war crimes prosecutor Bruno Vekaric, praised the report as a ‘great victory for the truth and justice’.
‘Thanks to the help and authority of Serbian President Boris Tadic, and the perseverance of the (Serbian) judicial authorities, we came to this victory which gives hope to the families of the kidnapped victims,’ Vekaric said.
The report also appeared to suggest that the traffic in human kidneys predated – and could even have links to – suspects behind illegal sales of donor kidneys involving a private Kosovo clinic.
A Kosovo court heard a prosecutor’s arguments on Tuesday that seven Kosovans on trial were part of the elaborate international network trading in the organs of people living in extreme poverty.
European Union Prosecutor Jonathan Ratel told the Pristina District Court that the men, including a former Kosovo Health Ministry official, had promised poor people from Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey as much as to $20,000 for their organs – money that was never paid.
The prosecutor said the recipients of the organs, including patients from Canada, Germany, Poland and Israel, had paid £60,000 to £80,000 for them.
The seven have pleaded not guilty to charges ranging from people trafficking to unlawful medical practices and abuse of power. None is in custody. Two other suspects – a Turkish and an Israeli national – remain at large.