Balkans: Human organ trafficking investigator shunned

Pristina, 7 August (AKI) – Albanian and Kosovan officials have refused to cooperate with a European official visiting the region this week to probe allegations of human organ trafficking, local media said on Friday. Swiss lawyer Dick Marty, an investigator from the human rights watchdog The Council of Europe, was in the region to investigate claims that guerrillas from the Kosovo Liberation Army sold organs on the black market.

The organs were allegedly removed from abducted Serb and Roma civilians during the ethnic Albanian rebellion in 1998-1999 and sold.

Former chief prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Carla del Ponte said in her book, The Hunt, published in April last year that she received information that about 300 people, mainly Serbs and Roma, were abducted and transferred to northern Albania where their organs were extracted and trafficked during 1999.

The Hague tribunal stated that no substantial evidence supporting the allegations had been supplied to the court.

But del Ponte's book sparked controversy with Kosovan and Albanian officials who denied the allegations and Russian and Serbian officials who demanded a full investigation.

Hundreds of people who disappeared at time of the KLA rebellion are still listed as missing.

Marty was told by officials in the Albanian capital, Tirana, that only the Albanian authorities were entitled to carry out an investigation. The officials dismissed the claims as “Serbian propaganda."

“Only Albanian prosecutors have the right to carry out an investigation on Albanian territory," justice minister Enkelejd Alibeaj was quoted by Kosovo television RTV21 as telling Marty.

He dismissed the allegations as “false claims” without any proof.

“I refuse to believe that it is true (organs trafficking), but we would like this matter to be investigated,” Marty reportedly replied.

Meanwhile, the Kosovo Committee for the protection of human rights and freedoms said in a statement that the investigation about alleged organs trafficking was “shameful, negative, and politically motivated”.

Wanda Trosinska from Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday the group had information that “at least 400 people were transferred from Kosovo to Albania where all traces of them were lost”.

“We demand from Kosovo and Albanian authorities, as well as from most important international institutions, to determine the fate of these people and what happened to them,” Trosinska said in Brussels.


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