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Kosovo prime minister calls for vote on creating court for Balkans war crimes

[JURIST] Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci [official website] on Thursday called on the nation's parliament to vote on creating a European Union-backed tribunal to investigate allegations of harvesting organs from dead Serbs during the 1990s Balkans war. In a press release [text], Thaci stated, "although the issue is completely unfair and offensive to the state of Kosovo, the Kosovo Assembly should decide." The push for the proposed tribunal stems [Reuters report] from a 2011 Council of Europe report alleging that Kosovar guerrilla fighters smuggled the corpses of their adversaries into Albania in order to harvest and sell their organs. International officials have urged to Kosovo legislature to accept and endorse the tribunal before its dissolution and general elections in September, reportedly warning the state that if they refuse to accept the tribunal the organs case will be transferred for consideration by the UN Security Council [official website]. It is expected that the tribunal will be unpopular within Kosovo, as many citizens support the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and its fighters, which has caused difficulty in investigating and prosecuting war crimes in the past.

Negotiations and plans to institute this tribunal were discovered [JURIST report] by the Associated Press at the beginning of April, and have garnered significant support from the international community as an important step towards justice and reconciliation. Until now, allegations of organ harvesting were investigated and prosecuted haphazardly alongside other war crimes. In April 2013 the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) [official website] sentenced [JURIST report] five men to prison sentences for their roles in an organ-trafficking scheme. The international interest on the issue of organ trafficking by the KLA was greatly expanded [JURIST report] in 2011 with the release of a report [text] detailing incidents and allegations of trafficking, prompting calls to begin investigations and prosecutions relating to the incidents. The Council of Europe began [JURIST report] its investigations into organ trafficking in Kosovo in 2008, partially in response to a book by the former prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Carla Del Ponte, in which hundreds of counts of human and organ trafficking were alleged.

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