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EU prosecutor to investigate alleged organ trafficking in Albania

Head of the European Union Rule of Law Mission to Kosovo (EULEX) [official website], Xavier de Marnhac, announced on Wednesday that an EU prosecutor will visit Albania to investigate allegations of an organ trafficking scheme that took place in the country during the 1998-1999 Kosovo War [JURIST news archive]. The allegations stem from a report [text] authored by Council of Europe (COE) [official website] member Dick Marty [BBC profile] that implicates Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci [official profile] as the "boss" of an illegal criminal enterprise [JURIST report] that trafficked human organs and drugs during the war. According to the report, criminals harvested the organs of civilian detainees killed on Albanian territory near the Albania-Kosovo border and sold the organs on the black market for overseas transplants. De Marnhac's announcement came one day after a trial opened [NYT report] in Kosovo for seven Kosovars, mostly doctors, accused of organ trafficking and organized crime. The defendants appeared before a three-judge panel led by EULEX. Also on Wednesday, de Marnhac urged supporters to remain calm after an EULEX employee survived an alleged car bombing [AP report] that occurred outside an EU building in Kosovo.

EULEX announced in August that US prosecutor John Clint Williamson would lead an investigation [JURIST report] into allegations 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 during the Kosovo War. Thaci strongly denies the allegations and has pledged to cooperate with the investigation. 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 [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 and said that her country would only pursue the allegations if the ICTY decided to reopen its investigation.

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