By Christina Berger
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
PRISTINA, Kosovo – The Council of Europe has called for new inquiries into claims that the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) engaged in organ trafficking following the conflict with Serbia in 1999. This was prompted by a recent report by a Swiss Senator, Dick Marty, which alleges that following the war with the Serbs, a faction of the KLA, an ethnic Albanian separatist group, took prisoners to detention facilities where their organs were removed and later sold. A copy of the Marty report can be viewed here.
The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly passed a resolution calling for a “serious and independent” inquiry into the organ trafficking claims. While not binding, the resolution has reignited claims that have previously led to investigations but no prosecutions.
The report claims that witnesses to the organ trafficking were silenced and paid off by a KLA faction known as the Drenica Group. The report accuses the Drenica Group of heroin smuggling and assassinations, in addition to organ trafficking, and the report claims Hashim Thaci, the current Prime Minister of Kosovo, was the group’s leader.
Thaci strongly denies this claim. Thaci told the BBC’s Mark Lowen, “This is slanderous Serbian propaganda,” adding that “[t]here may have been individuals who misused the name of the KLA to commit illegal acts. But I have never broken international law. If there’s any evidence, an investigation should be launched to clear this slander once and for all.”
Marty has said he never claimed Thaci was directly involved in the organ trafficking, but that “it [was] hard to believe that [Thaci] never heard anything being said.”
On Friday, the EU rule of law mission (Eulex), which works with Kosovo Albanian officials to fight crime and corruption, stated that they opened a preliminary investigation into the allegations made in Marty’s report. The mission stated that it took these allegations “very seriously” and that it was “ready, willing, and able to assume responsibility” for any resulting judicial proceedings. Eulex called on all officials and organizations to come forward with relevant evidence, and promised full protection of witnesses.
Dick Marty has responded to the Eulex statements by saying that an investigation into the organ trafficking claims should be conducted by an independent body outside of Kosovo. Marty noted, “It’s not that I don’t have confidence in everybody who work[s] in EULEX…but another solution needs to be found when…persons who have high political responsibility in the country should be investigated.”
For more information, please see:
PRESS ASSOCIATION – EU probes organ trafficking claims – 30 January 2011
B92 – “Independent body should conduct probe” – 30 January 2011
AP – EU probes organ trafficking allegations in Kosovo – 29 January 2011
BBC – EU studies Kosovo ‘organ traffic’ allegations – 28 January 2011
BBC – Report reignites Kosovo organ trafficking claim – 25 January 2011
BBC – Council of Europe calls for new Kosovo organ inquiry – 25 January 2011