UN Security Council weighs Kosovo organ trafficking investigation

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[JURIST] UN Special Representative to Kosovo Lamberto Zannier on Wednesday requested [press release] that the UN Security Council [official website] open an independent investigation into alleged incidents of organ trafficking [JURIST news archive], inhuman treatment and other crimes by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The request follows shortly after the Council of Europe (COE) [official website] called for a similar inquiry [JURIST report] last month, and stems from a report [text; JURIST report] authored by COE member Dick Marty [BBC profile] indicating that Kosovar Prime Minister Hasham Thaci [official profile] served as the “boss” of an illegal criminal enterprise that trafficked human organs and drugs during the war. US, British and German ambassadors to the UN expressed reservations [Reuters report] about establishing an ad hoc investigatory mechanism, as well as their support for the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) in conducting the inquiry. Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, however, argued that EULEX is inadequately equipped to do so, as the allegations include activities throughout Europe and in Asia and Africa.

The COE report alleges that Thaci was the leader of the KLA Drenica Group, a criminal network that controlled the heroin trade and the black market trafficking of kidneys of executed Serbian and Albanian war prisoners. News of the report’s accusations prompted the government to respond [press release], denying the allegations and calling them an attempt to harm Thaci’s reputation following his party’s victory in the nation’s parliamentary elections last year. Claims of Kosovo’s involvement in human organ trafficking originated in 2008 when former prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] Carla Del Ponte [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] alleged in a book [JURIST report] about her time at the tribunal that roughly 300 Serbian and other non-Albanian prisoners were victims of organ trafficking during the war. That year, Serbian prosecutors condemned Albania’s refusal to initiate [JURIST report] an investigation into allegations of organ trafficking in Kosovo. Albanian Prosecutor General Ina Rama refused to cooperate with Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic [official website] and said that her country would only pursue the allegations if the ICTY decided to reopen its investigation.

Read more detail on JURIST – Paper Chase

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