Kosovar Prime Minister Hasham Thaci [official profile] was named Tuesday in a draft report [text; press release] by Council of Europe [official website] member Dick Marty [BBC profile] as the "boss" of an illegal criminal enterprise that trafficked human organs and drugs during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The report alleges that Thaci was the leader of the Kosovo Libertarian Army (KLA) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive] Drenica Group, a criminal network that controlled the heroin trade and the black market trafficking of kidneys of executed Serbian and Albanian war prisoners. The report goes on to accuse Thaci of evading justice by "eliminating or intimidating into silence the majority of the potential and actual witnesses against them" and by "faltering political will on the part of the international community to effectively prosecute the former leaders of the KLA" without which they "would have been convicted of serious crimes and would by now be serving lengthy prison sentences." News of the report's accusations were leaked by The Guardian earlier this week to which the Kosovar government responded [press release] by calling the allegations false and an attempt to harm the reputation of Thaci, whose party won the nation's parliamentary elections earlier this year:
The citizens of the Republic of Kosovo and wider international opinion will not believe the ill-intentioned fabrications of those who oppose the independence and sovereignty of our country and in absolutely no way, will they allow hooligans to defile the pure war of the Kosovo Liberation Army and the sacrifice of all the citizens of our country. The Government of the Republic of Kosovo calls on all member states of the Council of Europe to strongly oppose this fabricated and tendentious report and to not join the side of those who at all costs want to obstruct the stability, progress and good governance of the Republic of Kosovo.The draft report will be submitted [NY Times report] to a legal affairs committee on Thursday and will be formally debated in the Parliamentary Assembly on January 25.
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] on her time at the tribunal that about 300 Serbian and other non-Albanian prisoners were victims of organ trafficking [JURIST news archive] 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.