European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) [official website] prosecutor Jonathan Ratel filed additional charges on Friday against seven Kosovo citizens on trial for illegal kidney trafficking. This is the first time Ratel alleged [AP report] that a link existed between the suspects and high-ranking Kosovo officials. Among the officials, the indictment lists Kosovo Ministry of Health official, Ilir Rrecaj, and former Minister of Health Alush Gashi and Shaip Muja, former health adviser to Prime Minister Hashim Thaci [official profile], as those consulted with, but the latter two were not charged. The expanded indictment also states that Turkish and Russian indigent donors were offered financial incentives in exchange for kidneys. The expanded indictment includes grievous bodily harm, fraud, and falsification of documents as additional charges to the organ trafficking violations.
Prior organ trafficking schemes have been investigated in Kosovo. Moshe Harel was arrested [JURIST report] in May 2012 in connection with the organ trafficking operation in Kosovo during the 1998-1999 Kosovo War [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], according to EULEX. A report [text] authored by Council of Europe (COE) [official website] member Dick Marty [BBC profile] detailed how criminals harvested the organs of dead civilian detainees and sold the organs on the black market for overseas transplants.That organ trafficking scandal received more attention after Marty's report implicated [JURIST report] Thaci [official profile] in the scheme. In August 2011 a US prosecutor began investigating Thaci's role in the scandal [JURIST report]. In February 2011 UN Special Representative to Kosovo Lamberto Zannier requested [JURIST report] that the UN Security Council [official website] open an independent investigation into alleged incidents of organ trafficking.