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WORLD

Will Kosovo organ trafficking case be put on wrong track?

Pyotr ISKENDEROV | 12.02.2012 | 15:27
 

The situation in Kosovo was expected to become the key issue on the agenda of the UN Security Council’s meeting on February 8 in New York. Before the meeting the members of the Security Council received a report by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet. In his report Mulet notes that the resumption of the talks between the authorities of Belgrade and Kosovo has «eased the tensions» but the stakeholders are facing new «significant political challenges». Among such challenges the official names the situation in the regions populated by Kosovo Serbs, which remains unsolved. 

Giving credit to the diplomatic assessments made by Mulet it is necessary to stress that the situation in Kosovo remains tense not because of the activities of Kosovo Serbs but because of the policy of the regional government headed by Hashim Thaci, the former political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). For the Serbian government and Kosovo Serbs KLA is a terrorist organization while Thaci is the person who is involved in many crimes. 

Thaci and other current political leaders of Kosovo are mentioned in the Kosovo organ trafficking report by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). According to the report a criminal group of Kosovo Liberation Army fighters had kidnapped and executed Serbian and Albanian prisoners and sold their organs on the international black market. It was expected that in the result the investigation initiated by the EU mission in Pristina all the details of the criminal activities of Kosovo separatists would become known.  

So far this has not happened. The international representatives even did not demand that Thaci should suspend his office for the period of the investigation. The investigators are trying to narrow down the case to the activities of the Medicus clinic in Pristina (closed in 2008), where transplantation of kidneys to rich patients from Europe, the US and Canada were performed. But the Medicus is not an infamous «loony bin» in the north of Albania where in the early 2000-s traces of such operations were discovered. Ilir Recaj, the former Kosovo Healthcare Secretary, one of the persons involved in the case is not Hashim Thaci. It is not a coincidence that that the EU prosecutor Jonathan Ratel, who is busy with the investigation, said recently that the investigation did not have any item of evidence pointing at the link between the Medicus case and the accusations of KLA leaders. 

Although in 2010, PACE’s member Dick Marty directly pointed at such a connection, the investigators are continuing to focus on Ilir Recaj, Israeli mediator Moshe Harel, Turkish surgeon Yusuf Soimez and Kosovo urologist Lutfi Dervishi, on anyone but not on the key actors without whose assistance the organ trafficking in Kosovo simply could not exist. Except for few cases Serbs are not mentioned among the victims.

Russia insists that the investigation on the involvement of Kosovo leaders in illegal trade with human organs should be controlled of the UN Security Council. Russia’s permanent envoy in the UN Vitaly Churkin made such a statement at a meeting of the Security Council. According to him, the facts point directly at the involvement of Kosovo’s current leaders in those crimes. But the investigation is led by the governments of the countries which earlier helped those people to come to power. Churkin stressed that Americans are playing the main role there: «What a coincidence! It is a US citizen who now heads the investigation», he said meaning the US prosecutor John Clint Williamson. All the materials including KLA leadership’s worksheets for 1998-1999 are in Williamson’s disposal. These documents remarkable notes: «A middle aged Serbian woman detained, of no interest» or «A blonde man caught, must be sent to by-products. No matter who he is - Serbian or American». 

The list of witnesses, made by the US and EU investigators, is also remarkable. First of all it is Raul Fain, a Canadian citizen, who was operated in the Medicus clinic in 2008. Somehow the prosecution managed to attach his evidence to the case unlike the claims of many local witnesses who had withdrawn their initial complaints or were «reported missing», like Jilma Altun from Turkey. In order not to let it happen to Raul Fain he was allowed to testify from Canada through video communications. 

As we can judge from the evidence of the Canadian, who needed kidney transplantation, he had initial talks with Israeli mediators who introduced him to the administration of the Medicus clinic. The operation cost € 87,000. Fain transferred the money to the account of the mediator Moshe Harel and flew to Pristina via Istanbul where he was examined by transplant surgeon Yusuf Sonmez, who is now one of the main defendants in the case. After that the Canadian patient together with a patient from Germany was taken to the clinic where they received kidney transplants. According to the prosecution’s report, two women from the CIS countries served as the donors for the Canadian and German patients. According to information leakages in some mass media, one of them was Anna Rusalenko from Russia’s Far East. It was her kidney that was transplanted to the Canadian patient but she did not receive the promised compensation of €20,000 and was sent back to Istanbul. 

Similar evidence was given by another international witness - Joseph Koralashvili, a manager from New York who in October 2008 accompanied his father, who needed a kidney transplant, to Kosovo. The safety of this witness was ensured directly by the FBI but his testimony was aimed only to confirm the EU’s official version of the events. Koralashvili said that during his six day stay in Pristina none of the local doctors had introduced himself/herself by name and he did not know whose kidney had been transplanted to his father. 

The testimonies of Fain and Koralashvili definitely prove a high level of international coordination of «black» transplant surgeons’ activities. At the same time the materials of the case still lack the main facts which were stated by the former Chief Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Carla del Ponte in her book and reported by Dick Marty - the involvement of the Kosovo leadership headed by Hashi Thaci in the organ trafficking business. Even taking into consideration serious accusations against Yusuf Sonmez and the officials of Kosovo Healthcare Ministry it is hard not to notice that the EU officials who supervise the investigation are trying to take the heat off the key persons involved in the case.

Meanwhile in the materials collected and published by Carla del Ponte contain names of hundreds of Kosovo Serbs who were brought to Albania in the late 1990s and became victims of organ trafficking business. The report also states that KLA leaders headed by Thaci were involved in this criminal business.

By all accounts, the EU investigators circumvent these episodes in their current investigation. The problem is not lack of evidence or West’s reluctance to put at threat the picture of the Kosovo crisis in which Albanians are seen as victims and Serbs as aggressors and criminals. This distortion of real facts served to justify bombings of Yugoslavia by NATO air forces in 1999 and the following recognition of Kosovo's independence by the US and the EU member states. It is not a coincidence that del Ponte published the materials on organ trafficking not in the early 2000s but in April 2008, after the West had recognized Kosovo's independence. If the truth on the terrible crimes had become known earlier Western public would not have made such a confession. Today the investigation led by the EU faces similar obstacles. That is why there is a probability that the court will confine itself to passing sentence upon Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez and all references to Serbian victims will be deleted. 

In a recent interview with Belgrade’s daily Press Carla del Ponte noted that the current investigation is lacking political will. She said that the international society does not want to know the truth about those crimes. Human Right Watch’s experts agree with her. They think that neither the EU mission nor the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia in the Hague are capable to investigate the organ trafficking case in which Kosovo regime leaders are involved and it is necessary to establish a new international institution for it. Fred Abrahams, a representative of the Human Right Watch, is convinced that the list of hundreds of Serbs who were executed and whose organs were sold on the international black market is far from being complete. According to the documents which have been recently released by France 24 TV channel, the UN high ranking officials knew about organ trafficking and the involvement of KLA commanders in it as early as 2003.

In January, the European Commission decided to start talks with Kosovo authorities on granting its residents visa-free regime. Another transfer of financial aid to Pristina is next on agenda. I wonder how the European tax payers take such money consuming advances the EU make to the political leaders with such a dingy reputation like Hashim Thaci? 

Is Serbia strongly interested in a full scale investigation into crimes committed in Kosovo? Belgrade and Pristina avoid this topic in their talks. Speaking in the UN Security Council Vuk Jeremic, Serbia’s Security Minister said only that the spirit of truth should prevail in the talks. That sounded encouraging especially considering that Pristina authorities were presented by the delegation of the government of Hashim Thaci, the boss of the Drenica group how he was called in the report by Dick Marti.  

Here have been reports in Serbia that a personal meeting between Serbian President Boris Tadic and Hashim Thaci is to take place soon. In an interview with Alfa TV (Skopje) Thaci said that Tadic and he should shake hands. Taking into account that by March Serbia is to report to the EU on normalization of the relations with Pristina, the probability of this handshake is high. To punish Turkish doctor and an Israeli mediator for the crimes of «black» transplant surgeons, to narrow down the crimes of the Albanian leaders to tricks of a second ranking official and to make Tadic and Thaci seat at the negotiating table - the architects of the «new world order» could only dream about such a solution of the Kosovo issue...

 
Tags: Human Rights Watch UN Kosovo Serbia Turkey del Ponte
 

 
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OUR COLUMNIST
    Finian CUNNINGHAM

Kiev Elections Can’t Sanitise State of Mob Rule

The Kiev regime’s parliamentary elections this weekend are set to go ahead amid an atmosphere of rampant political street violence and intimidation – and that’s not in the war-torn eastern part of Ukraine. The parliamentary elections were called in June by the then elected President Petro Poroshenko as a way of legitimising the illegal coup against the Ukrainian government that occurred four months previously with the support of the American Central Intelligence Agency... In the paraphrased words of Abraham Lincoln, no electoral process can sanitise the glaring fact of Kiev’s rule of the mob, by the mob, for the mob.

25.10.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Pyotr ISKENDEROV


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