Turk, Israeli Charged With Organ Trafficking in Kosovo

Posted June 13th, 2011 at 8:00 pm (UTC-5)
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A European Union prosecutor in Kosovo has indicted a Turkish and an Israeli citizen for involvement in illegal trafficking of human organs at a clinic in Pristina.

The European Union justice mission in Kosovo announced Monday that Yusuf Sonmez of Turkey and Israel's Moshe Harel were charged last week with trafficking in persons, unlawful medical activity and organized crime.

The two are considered fugitives and Interpol has issued warrants for their arrests.

The indictments are part of a larger investigation into allegations that an organized criminal group conducted operations in a clinic outside the capital Pristina, transplanting illegally harvested organs.

EU prosecutors say that victims from poor countries were lured to the private Medicus clinic by promises of about $20,000 for their kidneys, but some were never paid. They say recipients were required to pay more than $100,000 for a transplanted organ.

Police learned about the transplants in 2008 from a Turkish national who was leaving Kosovo after his kidney had been taken out. Other victims came from Kazakhstan, Moldova and Russia.

Since then seven Kosovo citizens, including the director of the Medicus clinic, have been charged and will stand trial in connection with the organ transplantations.

Separately, an EU commission will investigate claims by a Council of Europe investigator that members of the Kosovo Liberation Army harvested organs from captured Serbs and sold them to support their fight for independence in the 1990s. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

The Council of Europe Rapporteur Dick Marty said in his report released in December that Kosovo's current Prime Minister Hashim Thaci headed the guerrilla faction that ran a Mafia-like crime gang during and after the war. Mr. Thaci has called the report a fabrication.