Serbia is urging international authorities to investigate allegations of a trade in the kidneys and other human organs of Serbian and Albanian civilians slain in the aftermath of Kosovo’s 1999 war of secession.
Swiss senator Dick Marty last week released a report on the alleged illicit trafficking of human organs by members of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Marty’s report to the Council of Europe suggested Kosovo’s Western-backed prime minister and former rebel commander Hashim Thaci was behind the grisly trade.
The kidneys and other organs were allegedly removed from Serbs and other Kosovar opponents of the KLA in detention facilities in neighboring Albania. Thaci and Albanian officials have vehemently denied the accusations.
Marty led a team of investigators to Kosovo and Albania in 2009, following allegations of organ trafficking published in a book by former chief U.N. War Crimes tribunal prosecutor Carla Del Ponte who said she was given information by Western journalists.
Marty’s investigation found that there were a number of detention facilities in Albania, where the victims were allegedly held once the hostilities in Kosovo were over, including a “state-of-the-art reception center for the organized crime of organ trafficking.” It is alleged that captives were taken to one of the detention facitlities near Albania’s capital, Tirana, where they were shot in the head and their kidneys were removed.
Albania has previously been accused of resisting inquiries into the allegations concerning KLA detention facilities in the north of the country. Philip Alston, a special UN rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, told a press conference in Tirana in February that Albanian officials had played “diplomatic ping pong” and stalled investigations. There had been “no meaningful cooperation from Albania”, he said. “The [Albanian] government should do everything it can to facilitate an independent and objective investigation by the international entities investigating abuses,” he added.
Council of Europe investigators are understood to have been among those who, according to Alston, received only limited assistance from Albania during their inquiries.
Members of the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly are being heavily lobbied over Marty’s report, which they will be asked to adopt at the end of January. The report has already been endorsed by the council’s influential legal affairs committee.
Council of Europe parliamentarians are understood to have requested to see evidence cited in Marty’s report, which bases its claims on first-hand testimony from alleged witnesses to war crimes as well as FBI and MI6 intelligence reports.
In our opinion, these allegations need to be investigated thoroughly. War crimes are not a political football to be used against enemies and dismissed if they are committed by allies.
Nationality, ethnicity and religion are of no matter.
All war crimes allegations are equal and should be treated as such.