47 page NATO secret Report: http://www.mafialand.de/Members/juergen/pdf/kosovo%20-%20Haliti%20Xhavit.pdf, over the Top killer Mafia: Xhavit Halili, Hashim Thaci, Selimi, Haradinaj, Sabit Geci, Shajp Muja
By FRANCE 24 the 16/02/2011 – 18:08
A classified document obtained by FRANCE 24 suggests the United Nations knew about organ trafficking in postwar Kosovo as early as 2003, five years before prosecutors in The Hague first raised the issue.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was expected to deliver a report on the situation in Kosovo to the Security Council in New York on Wednesday, reaffirming UN support for investigations into human organ trafficking during Kosovo’s postwar period.
But a classified document obtained by FRANCE 24 indicates the UN knew of trafficking well before the issue was first raised by Carla del Ponte, a former prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in her memoirs published in 2008.
The report, dating from 2003, is an incomplete compilation of investigations carried out by UNMIK, the UN mission in Kosovo. It describes organ trafficking that took place from 1999 to 2000, immediately after Kosovo’s NATO-backed independence war.
The document, also obtained by the Italian news agency TMnews, details how senior commanders of the guerilla Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) obtained and trafficked organs out of Kosovo and Albania.
The alleged victims were mostly Serbian men, but also included young women from other Eastern European countries. They were taken to clandestine detention centres and private homes in Albania where their vital organs were extracted, leading to their death, the report says.
The classified document also describes cases of torture, execution and burial of Serbs as retribution for crimes committed against ethnic Albanians.
The 2003 document has never been presented to the European Union’s police and justice mission in Kosovo (EULEX), which is in charge of investigating crimes committed during the war.
The first public allegations of organ trafficking by del Ponte gained little notice. But a report commissioned by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) – a prominent European human rights body – and authored by Swiss lawmaker Dick Marty in late 2010 gained much more attention.
At the time these crimes were allegedly happening, tens of thousands of troops were deployed in Kosovo by the UN, as well as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and NATO, to ensure the security of civilians.
Dick Martys Bericht an den Europarat
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo*
Ausdrücklich wird erwähnt, das diese hoch kriminellen Verbrecher, direkte Verbindungen auch zum Premier Minister haben, also Fatos Nano damals und heute wie in 1998 und danach: Salih Berisha, was sowieso bewiesen ist, wie als Mentor Minister Ferdinand Xhaferie, dessen Mentor US Botschafter Josef Limprecht vom CIA ermordet wurde (Mitte Mai 2002), wegen diesen Verbrechen und wegen Drogen Handel und als Partner der Islamischen Terroristen und Bin Laden in Albanien.
Raporti sekret për trafikim organesh (2003)
Organizata e Kombeve të Bashkuara (OKB) ishte në dijeni për trafikimin e organeve të njerëzve që prej vitit 2003, pesë vjet para se të bëhej publike nga ish kryeprokuroja e Hagës, Carla del Ponte. Një dokument sekret i papërfunduar tërësisht i UNMIK-ut, që daton në vitin 2003, flet për vrasjet dhe trafikimin që është bërë pas hyrjes së NATO-së në Kosovë, vitet 1999-2000.
Dokumenti i siguruar nga disa media në Francë dhe Itali, dhe në Kosovë nga portali Indeksonline shkruan se si një ish komandant i UÇK-së ka pranuar para hetuesve të OKB-së për trafikimin e organeve që është bërë në Kosovë dhe Shqipëri.
Raporti thekson se “shumica e viktimave ishin serbë, por aty kanë qenë të përfshirë edhe femra të reja nga vendet e Evropës Lindore. Ato ishin mbajtur të mbyllura si klandestine në disa shtëpi në Shqipëri, ku u hiqeshin organet vitale, duke i dërguar drejt vdekjes”. Dokumenti sekret përshkruan raste të torturave, ekzekutimeve e formave të tjera të rrahjeve ndaj civilëve.
Dokumenti rreth 30 faqesh përshkruan se “në kampet e Burrelit llogaritet të kenë kaluar prej 100 deri në 300 njerëz. Prej 24 deri 100 u transferuan në afërsi të Burrelit në mesin e gushtit”. Dokumenti përmend emrat e ish komandantëve të UÇK-së që kanë dëshmuar për këto veprimtari. Aty është lista me emrat e njerëzve që supozohet se u janë marrë organet, pastaj të vdekurit janë djegur.
“Gjithë operacioni ishte i përkrahur nga një njeri që kishte lidhje me policinë sekrete të ish qeverisë së Sali Berishës”, shkruan raporti.
Në raport janë të përfshirë një sërë fotosh dhe emrash të njerëzve që supozohet se kanë kaluar nëpër këto burgje sekrete. Dokumenti ende nuk i është prezantuar Misionit të EULEX-it, i cili ka qenë i ndërlidhur me hetimet e mundshme për trafikim organesh të njerëzve. As OKB nuk ka reaguar ende për vërtetësinë e raportit dhe nëse ai me të vërtet mban vulën e OKB-së.
17 Feb 2011 / 15:43
An internal UN document from 2003 shows that investigators obtained statements from KLA members which describe human organ harvesting by the Kosovo Army in Albania.
The authenticity of the document, which Balkan Insight has seen, has not yet been verified.
In the internal correspondence between ICTY officials and their UNMIK counterparts, the authors include information from interviews with eight sources who describe the process of transporting Serb captives from Kosovo to Albania, where organs were extracted from some and their remains buried.
The leaked document has surfaced two months after Europe’s top human rights investigator, Dick Marty, released a damning report alleging that a criminal network linked to Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci summarily executed prisoners and harvested their kidneys to sell for illicit organ transplants after the conflict in Kosovo.
Kosovo and Albanian officials have rejected the claims.
Marty’s report was adopted by the Council of Europe in January, and international bodies, as well as Serbian and Kosovo officials, have called for investigations into the allegations.
In the summary based on the eight interviews with KLA sources, ICTY officials wrote: “Beginning in mid-1999, and possibly earlier, between 100 and 300 people were abducted and taken by truck and van to detention facilities in or near the northern Albanian towns of Kukes and Tropoje.”
In August 1999, some of these captives (24-100), were transferred from northern Albania to detention facilities in central Albania, mainly near the town of Burrel (or Burreli) about 110 kilometres southwest of Kukes, the summary notes.
According to the witness statements, “the captives taken to central Albania were again moved, in small groups, to a private house south of Burrel that was set up as a makeshift clinic. There, medical equipment and personnel were used to extract body organs from the captives, who then died. Their remains were buried nearby.”
The witness accounts say that the organs were then transported to Rinas airport near Tirana (75km away) and flown abroad.
The document notes that some of the captives taken to the clinic near Burrel were women from Kosovo, Albania and eastern Europe, and the last delivery of captives was reportedly in spring or early summer 2000.
The witness accounts come from eight men, all ethnic Albanians from Kosovo or Montenegro who served in the KLA. They were tasked with transporting captives to Albania, including to the clinic in Burrel. Two sources say they participated in the burial of bodies, and one claims to have participated in the delivery of organs to the airport.
None of the sources say they witnessed the actual harvesting of organs.
All of the witnesses told the investigators that “the transport and surgical procedures were carried out with the knowledge and/or active involvement of mid-level or senior KLA officers, as well as doctors from Kosovo and abroad. The operation was supported by men with links to Albanian secret service operatives of the former government of Sali Berisha.”
No “Freedom Fighters”, Just Criminals and Thugs
On the preceding pages, the latest Drugs & Crime UN report offers a rarely accurate analysis of the situation among the ethnic Albanians (both next door to Serbia, in neighboring Albania, and in Serbia itself, mainly in the southern Kosovo province), which led to formation of the Albanian terrorist KLA (UCK) and to the terrorist attacks in Serbia — an unusually honest glimpse at the root-causes of Albanian insurrection and occupation of part of Serbia, impossible to find in the tons of worthless junk produced daily by the Western mainstream media.
The following excerpt effectively dismantles the pompous claims of heroic “struggle for freedom and independence” and disingenuous references to the “self-determination” of an ethnic group which has already exercised its right to self-determination with the formation of state of Albania.
No, it has nothing to do with “freedom”, “independence” or “self-determination”, it is all about illicit trade, crime without punishment, lawlessness, thuggery and insatiable greed.
Criminals, Terrorists or Politicians? In Kosovo-Metohija, all Three.
Excerpt from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime report for March 2008
[pg 52] According to an Interpol statement made before the U.S. Congress in 2000:
How Corrupt Governments Make a Killing on Human Organs
Posted 12:00 PM 01/07/11
In December, the Council of Europe released a report alleging that Hashim Thaçi, the prime minister of Kosovo, is the leader of a criminal ring that smuggles contraband — including human organs — throughout Eastern Europe. While organ-trafficking stories are hardly new, Thaçi’s has a bizarre twist: According to the COE, the prime minister used money generated from human organ sales to cement his political power in Kosovo, and he continues to profit from the traffic, along with many members of his Cabinet.
See full article from DailyFinance: http://srph.it/hIru2Z
After the war, the organ extraction program gained a level of respectability through the development of the Medicus clinic, a hospital located near Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. Dr. Sonmez, who had been barred from practicing medicine in Turkey’s public health sector, went to work at the clinic, performing transplants for wealthy German, Polish, Canadian and Israeli patients. Donors came from Russia, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Turkey, where they were solicited with promises of huge payoffs.
In 2008, EULEX, the European Union’s legal mission in Kosovo, began an investigation into the clinic for its role in the organ trade. Recently, five doctors were indicted for “trafficking in human organs, organized crime, unlawful exercise of medical activities and abusing official authority.” In addition to claims that Medicus was illegally transplanting organs, it also was accused of cheating its donors: After removing their organs, the clinic allegedly refused to pay the donors, transporting them to the airport before they had fully recovered from their surgeries.
Kosovo: Europe’s Mafia State. Hub of the EU-NATO Drug Trail
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Accused of Running Human Organ, Drug Trafficking Cartel
By Tom Burghardt
Global Research, December 22, 2010
In another grim milestone for the United States and NATO, the Council of Europe (COE) released an explosive report last week, “Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo.”
The report charged that former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) boss and current Prime Minister, Hashim Thaçi, “is the head of a ‘mafia-like’ Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe,” The Guardian disclosed.
According to a draft resolution unanimously approved December 16 in Paris, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights found compelling evidence of forced disappearances, organ trafficking, corruption and collusion between criminal gangs and “political circles” in Kosovo who just happen to be close regional allies of the United States.
The investigation was launched by Dick Marty, the Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe (PACE) special rapporteur for human rights who had conducted an exhaustive 2007 probe into CIA “black fights” in Europe.
The PACE investigation gathered steam after allegations were published by former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Carla Del Ponte in her 2008 memoir.
After it’s publication, Ms. Del Ponte was bundled off to Argentina by the Swiss government as her nation’s ambassador. Once there, the former darling of the United States who specialized in doling out victor’s “justice” to the losers of the Balkan wars, was conveniently silenced.
A series of damning reports by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIR), the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the BBC, confirmed Del Ponte’s allegations and spurred the Council to act.
Reporting for the BBC, investigative journalist Michael Montgomery learned that political opponents of the KLA and Serb prisoners of war “simply vanished without a trace” into a secret prison “in the Albanian border town of Kukes.”
According to sources who feared for their lives, including former KLA guerrillas, the BBC revealed that disappeared civilians “were Serbs and Roma seized by KLA soldiers and were being hidden away from Nato troops. The source believes the captives were sent across the border to Albania and killed.”
In an uncanny echo of Nazi practices during the period of the Third Reich, The New York Times reported that “captives” were “‘filtered’ for their suitability as donors, based on sex, age, health conditions and ethnic origin. “We heard numerous references to captives’ not merely having been handed over, but also having been ‘bought’ and ‘sold,’” the special rapporteur told the Times.
“Some of the guards told investigators,” the Times reports, “that a few captives understood what was about to happen and ‘pleaded with their captors to be spared the fate of being chopped into pieces’.”
Mercy was in short supply however, behind KLA lines.
The report states: “As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the ‘safe house’ individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.”
Once organs were removed from the victims they were auctioned off to the highest bidder and sold by a global trafficking ring still operating today.
The former prosecutor further alleged, The Guardian reported, that “she had been prevented from investigating senior KLA officials” who she claimed had “smuggled captive Serbs across the border into Albania, where their organs were harvested.”
In a classic case of covering-up the crimes of low-level thugs to protect more powerful criminals, Del Ponte has charged that forensic evidence gathered by ICTY investigators at one of the northern Albania death houses was destroyed at The Hague.
This brisk underground trade didn’t end in 1999 however, when the break-away Serb province was occupied by NATO troops; on the contrary, operations expanded and grew even more profitable as Kosovo devolved into a protectorate of the United States.
In fact, a trial underway in Pristina has revealed that “desperate Russians, Moldovans, Kazakhs and Turks were lured into the capital ‘with the false promise of payments’ for their kidneys,” The Guardian reported.
It was a “growth industry” that fed on human misery. According to The Guardian, recipients “paid up to €90,000 (£76,400) for the black-market kidneys [and] included patients from Canada, Germany, Poland and Israel,” EU prosecutor Jonathan Ratel told the British paper.
“Donors” however, were left holding the bag, lucky to escape with their lives.
At the center of the scandal is the Medicus clinic. Located some six miles from downtown Pristina, Medicus was allegedly founded by university hospital urologist Dr Lutfi Dervishi, and a former permanent secretary of health, prosecutors claim, provided the clinic with a false license to operate.
Two of the accused, The Guardian revealed, “are fugitives wanted by Interpol: Moshe Harel, an Israeli said to have matched donors with recipients, and Yusuf Sonmez, perhaps the world’s most renowned organ trafficker.”
Prosecutors believe that Harel and Sonmez are the brains behind Medicus and that Shaip Muja, a former KLA “medical commander” who was based in Albania, may have overseen operations at the “clinic.”
Muja remains a close confidante of Thaçi’s and, in an macabre twist, he is currently “a political adviser in the office of the prime minister, with responsibility for health,” The Guardian reports.
Investigators averred they had “uncovered numerous convergent indications of Muja’s central role [in] international networks, comprising human traffickers, brokers of illicit surgical procedures, and other perpetrators of organised crime.”
Besides lining the pockets of Albanian, Israeli and Turkish criminals who ran the grisly trafficking ring, whose interests might also be served in covering-up these horrific crimes?
A Gangster State, but which One?
The veil of secrecy surrounding KLA atrocities could not have been as complete as it was without the intervention of powerful actors, particularly amongst political and military elites in Germany and the United States who had conspired with local gangsters, rebranded as “freedom fighters,” during the break-up of Yugoslavia.
As in Albania years before NATO’s Kosovo adventure, organized criminal activities and “the trade in narcotics and weapons [were] allowed to prosper,” Michel Chossudovsky wrote, because “the West had turned a blind eye.”
The consequences of this “deafening silence” remain today. Both in terms of the misery and impoverishment imposed on Kosovo’s citizens by the looting of their social property, particularly the wholesale privatization of its mineral wealth which IMF economic “reforms” had spawned, and in the political cover bestowed upon Pristina’s gangster regime by the United States.
In the intervening years NATO’s “blind eye” has morphed into something more sinister: outright complicity with their Balkan protégés.
Virtually charging the ICTY with knuckling under to political pressure from the Americans, the PACE report states that “the ICTY, which had started to conduct an initial examination on the spot to establish the existence of traces of possible organ trafficking, dropped the investigation.”
This is hardly surprising, considering that the ICTY was created at the insistence of the Clinton administration precisely as a retributive hammer to punish official enemies of the U.S.
Hailed as an objective body by media enablers of America’s imperial project, with few exceptions, while it relentlessly hunted down alleged Serbian war criminals–the losers in the decade-long conflagration–it studiously ignored proxy forces, including the KLA, under the operational control of German and American intelligence agencies.
The report averred that human organ trafficking was only a part of a larger web of crime and corruption, and that murder, trafficking in women, control over global narcotics distribution and money laundering networks were standard operating procedure for Thaçi and other members of the “Drenica group,” the black widows at the center of the KLA spiders’ web.
For his part, Thaçi has called the PACE report “libelous” and the Kosovo government has repudiated the Council’s findings claiming that the charges “were not based on facts and were construed to damage the image of Kosovo and the war of the Kosovo Liberation Army.”
While one can easily dismiss prevarications from Kosovo’s government, the White House role in covering-up the crimes of their client regime should have provoked a major scandal. That it didn’t only reveals the depths of Washington’s own venal self-interest in preventing this sordid affair from gaining traction.
In all likelihood fully-apprised of the Council of Europe’s investigation through any number of American-friendly moles implanted in European institutions as WikiLeaks Cablegate files have revealed, last summer Thaçi met with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden at the White House.
Shamelessly, Biden “reaffirmed the United States’ full support for an independent, democratic, whole, and multi-ethnic Kosovo,” and “reiterated the United States’ firm support for Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to a White House press release.
Indeed, the vice president “welcomed the progress that Kosovo’s government has made in carrying out essential reforms, including steps to strengthen the rule of law.”
An all too predictable pattern when one considers the lawless nature of the regime in Washington.
The Heroin Trail
As I reported more than two years ago in “Welcome to Kosovo! The World’s Newest Narco State,” the KLA served as the militarized vanguard for the Albanian mafia whose “15 Families” control virtually every facet of the Balkan heroin trade.
Albanian traffickers ship heroin originating exclusively from Central Asia’s Golden Crescent. At one end lies America’s drug outpost in Afghanistan where poppy is harvested for processing and transshipment through Iran and Turkey; as morphine base it is then refined into “product” for worldwide consumption. From there it passes into the hands of the Albanian syndicates who control the Balkan Route.
As the San Francisco Chronicle reported back in 1999, “Kosovars were the acknowledged masters of the trade, credited with shoving aside the Turkish gangs that had long dominated narcotics trafficking along the Balkan Route, and effectively directing the ethnic Albanian network.”
As the murdered investigative journalist Peter Klebnikov reported in 2000 for Mother Jones, as the U.S.-sponsored war in Kosovo heated up, “the drug traffickers began supplying the KLA with weapons procured from Eastern European and Italian crime groups in exchange for heroin. The 15 Families also lent their private armies to fight alongside the KLA. Clad in new Swiss uniforms and equipped with modern weaponry, these troops stood out among the ragtag irregulars of the KLA. In all, this was a formidable aid package.”
Despite billions of dollars spent on failed interdiction efforts, these patterns persist today as more than 106 metric tons of heroin flow into Europe. So alarmed has the Russian government become over the flood of heroin penetrating their borders from Central Asian and the Balkan outposts that some officials have likened it to American “narco-aggression” and a new “opium war, researcher Peter Dale Scott reported.
Scott avers: “These provinces” in Afghanistan, “support the past and present CIA assets in the Karzai regime (headed by Hamid Karzai, a former CIA asset), including the president’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, an active CIA asset, and Abdul Rashid Dostum, a former CIA asset. In effect America has allied itself with one drug faction in Afghanistan against another.” Much the same can be said for CIA assets in Pristina.
As the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published in their 2010 World Drug Report:
As has been documented for decades, U.S. destabilization programs and covert operations rely on far-right provocateurs and drug lords (often interchangeable players) to facilitate the dirty work. Throughout its Balkan campaign the CIA made liberal use of these preexisting narcotics networks to arm the KLA and then provide them with targets.
When NATO partners Germany and the U.S. decided to drive a stake through Yugoslavia’s heart during the heady days of post-Cold War triumphalism, their geopolitical strategy could not have achieved “success” without the connivance, indeed active partnership forged amongst Yugoslavia’s nationalist rivals. As investigative journalist Misha Glenny has shown,
Most shocking of all, however, is how the gangsters and politicians fueling war between their peoples were in private cooperating as friends and close business partners. The Croat, Bosnian, Albanian, Macedonian, and Serb moneymen and mobsters were truly thick as thieves. They bought, sold, and exchanged all manner of commodities, knowing that the high levels of personal trust between them were much stronger than the transitory bonds of hysterical nationalism. They fomented this ideology among ordinary folk in essence to mask their own venality. As one commentator described it, the new republics were ruled by “a parastate Cartel which had emerged from political institutions, the ruling Communist Party and its satellites, the military, a variety of police forces, the Mafia, court intellectuals and with the president of the Republic at the center of the spider web…Tribal nationalism was indispensable for the cartel as a means to pacify its subordinates and as a cover for the uninterrupted privatization of the state apparatus. (McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008, p. 27)
Thaçi and other members of his inner circle, Marty avers, were “commonly identified, and cited in secret intelligence reports,” published by the German secret state agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND “as the most dangerous of the KLA’s ‘criminal bosses’.”
Trading on American protection to consolidate political power, thus maintaining control over key narcotics smuggling corridors, the special rapporteur writes that “having succeeded in eliminating, or intimidating into silence, the majority of the potential and actual witnesses against them (both enemies and erstwhile allies), using violence, threats, blackmail, and protection rackets,” Thaçi’s Drenica Group have “exploit[ed] their position in order to accrue personal wealth totally out of proportion with their declared activities.”
Indeed, multiple reports prepared by the U.S. DEA, FBI, the BND, Italy’s SISMI, Britain’s MI6 and the Greek EYP intelligence service have stated that Drenica Group members “are consistently named as ‘key players’ in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organised crime.”
As the Council of Europe and investigative journalists have documented, northern Albania was the site not only of KLA training camps but of secret detention centers where prisoners of war and civilian KLA opponents were executed and their organs surgically removed and sold on the international black market.
The report avers, “It is well established that weapons and ammunition were smuggled into parts of Kosovo, often on horseback, through clandestine, mountainous routes from northern Albania,” the site of secret NATO bases, “yet only in the second half of 1998,” Marty writes, “through explicit endorsements from Western powers, founded on strong lobbying from the United States, did the KLA secure its pre-eminence in international perception as the vanguard of the Kosovar Albanian liberation struggle.”
While the special rapporteur’s outrage is palpable, the ascension of a political crime family with deep roots in the international drugs trade and other rackets, including the grisly traffic in human organs, far from being an anomalous event conforms precisely to the structural pattern of capitalist rule in the contemporary period.
Marty need look no further for an answer to his question than to the “political masters” in Washington, who continue to cover-up not only their own crimes but those of the global mafias who do their bidding.
As we have seen throughout the latter half of the 20th century down to the present moment, powerful corporate and financial elites, the military and intelligence agencies and, for lack of a better term, “normal” governmental institutions are suborned by the same crooked players who profit from war and the ensuing chaos it spawns to organize crime, thereby “rationalizing” criminal structures on more favorable terms for those “in the loop.”
In this regard, the impunity enjoyed up till now by Thaçi and his minions merely reflect the far-greater impunity enjoyed by the American secret state and the powerful actors amongst U.S. elites who have profited from the dirty work allegedly performed by Kosovo’s Prime Minister, and others like him, who are counted amongst the most loyal servants of imperial power.
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.
Is the mud sticking?
Feb 24th 2011, 16:17 by T.J. | TIRANA
KOSOVO marked the third anniversary of its independence on February 17th in sombre mood. Only last July the country’s leaders were riding high last year in the wake of an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice that its declaration of independence had not been illegal. Now their reputations are in tatters.
First came allegations of fraud in last December’s elections, which angered its strongest supporter, the United States. Soon afterwards, a report produced by Dick Marty, a Swiss politician and former prosecutor, made lurid claims about the involvement of Kosovo’s leadership in organised crime. In the last few days two new documents [PDF: download site] have come to light that appear to bolster the most nightmarish of those allegations.
First, a disclaimer. In Balkan politics, the dictum, “if you are not with us, you are against us” usually applies. Some readers have attacked this blog simply for reporting on the Marty affair. As a fog of confusion, claims and counter-claims swirls over the allegations laid against Kosovo’s leaders, we lay out here what is already known about the issue, and what is new.
Last December, Mr Marty delivered a report to the Council of Europe that alleged that Hashim Thaçi, who has just begun a second term as Kosovo’s prime minister, was close to people who, after the 1999 Kosovo war, had kidnapped some 500 Serbs, Albanians and others, all of whom were eventually killed. Some of them, the report claimed, were murdered so that their organs could be harvested and sold. Mr Thaçi has vigorously denied the claims.
Mr Marty’s allegations were not new. Their first public outing was in a 2008 book by Carla Del Ponte, the former prosecutor of the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague (ICTY), and Chuck Sudetic, a former ICTY analyst.
Now, however, documents have been leaked to the Serbian press that appear to strengthen Mr Marty’s claims. They contain transcripts of original interviews with witnesses gathered by a key source known to me and handed over confidentially in 2003 to the then UN administration in Kosovo (UNMIK). The witnesses in the documents are quoted as saying they believed kidnapped Serbs and others had been killed for their organs.
At the time there was no corroboration for these claims. But they did inspire UNMIK investigators and a team from the ICTY to visit, in February 2004, the now-infamous “yellow house” in rural north Albania, near the town of Burrel, where the witnesses said the killings had taken place.
A forensic report [PDF: download site] produced by UNMIK says that the team found traces of blood at the yellow house, but that these did not constitute “conclusive evidence” of criminal acts. Neither ICTY nor UNMIK undertook a search for bodies, and no full criminal investigation was ever undertaken. Yet the traces, as well as medical paraphernalia found outside the house, could have been considered to be corroborative physical evidence of the claims made in the witness statements we now know about.
Why did UNMIK shelve the case? Political expediency, basically. It had to work with the men implicated by the witnesses on a daily basis. The implications of what a criminal investigation might uncover horrified those in the UN charged with building a modern and stable administration in the post-war territory.
As for the ICTY, its prosecutors concluded that, even if crimes had been committed, they were beyond their jurisdiction because the had taken place after the Kosovo war had ended. Several years later, in a mysterious and embarrassing move for which it has never been properly taken to task, the ICTY destroyed the physical evidence collected at the yellow house. Had it been kept it might have yielded the DNA samples critical for a full criminal investigation.
As Mr Sudetic notes, because neither UNMIK nor the ICTY pursued the case, they were able to claim that they had no evidence to support the allegations. This was not, however, the case for Mr Marty, who conducted a much more thorough investigation. Albanians and others say that Mr Marty was opposed to Kosovo’s declaration of independence, and claim his report is part of a campaign to smear the new state.
Mr Marty has also been attacked for not revealing details about his sources. He says their lives would be in danger if their identities were known. How convenient, retort the sceptics.
The new evidence
But the new documents will dismay Mr Marty’s critics. They make for sickening reading about what happened in Albania after the war (although it is important to acknowledge that the claims they contain have never been tested by a proper criminal investigation). They also include details of the witnesses’ identities, although not their names.
The first document is dated October 30th 2003. It is an internal ICTY text containing an annex with the witness statements gathered by the external source that had been sent to it by UNMIK. The second, dated December 12th 2003, is from the director of UNMIK’s department of justice.
A summary of the witness statements in the first document states that between June and October 1999, 100-300 people, mostly Serb men, were abducted and taken to Albania. Between 24 and 100 of them were then taken to secondary detention centres, from where they were moved again to a “makeshift clinic” where “medical equipment and personnel were used to extract body organs from the captives, who then died.” The organs were then taken to Tirana airport and flown to Turkey and other destinations.
The document states that the witnesses were all ethnic Albanians who had served in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Four of them had been involved in the transport of at least 90 Serbs to central and northern Albania. Three of them delivered captives to the “house/clinic” near Burrel (the yellow house), the document states, two of them said they had helped dispose of human remains near the house, and one said he delivered body parts to Tirana airport.
The document also notes that none of the sources claimed to have witnessed the medical procedures. But they all claim that the operations and the transport of body parts took place with at least the knowledge, and in some cases the active involvement, of mid- to senior-level KLA officers.
At one point, the document quotes the sources as saying that: “The operation was supported by men with links to Albanian secret police operatives of the former government of Salih Berisha.” Mr Berisha is, again, Albania’s prime minister today.
Significantly, the new documents do not mention Mr Thaçi’s name. But they mention Ramush Haradinaj and his brother Daut. Mr Haradinaj is a former KLA commander and prime minister of Kosovo. In 2008 he was acquitted of war crimes by the ICTY, but he is now being retried on some counts after the prosecution successfully alleged witness intimidation.
Mr Haradinaj is a political foe of Mr Thaçi. The details revealed in the new documents might cheer the prime minister, as they appear to shift responsibility from his shoulders to Mr Haradinaj’s.
But as the evidence they contain was not used in Mr Haradinaj’s original war-crimes trial, it seems likely that prosecutors felt they were unable to stand up the claims. Moreover, Mr Haradinaj’s name does not appear in Mr Marty’s report. The situation remains murky.
The EU’s police and justice mission in Kosovo, EULEX, is to investigate Mr Marty’s claims, which go far beyond those of organ trafficking. But the new documents are unlikely to help in the search for justice. One well-placed source says that the hunt is already on in Kosovo to identify the witnesses.
After the leaks, anyone with knowledge of these events is unlikely to testify unless they receive guarantees of protection for years to come, including new identities and relocation abroad. That is a tragedy.
Everyone needs to know, once and for all, where the truth lies in this story, not least the families of the disappeared, as well as Kosovars whose leaders are now increasingly isolated internationally—in part thanks to these allegations.
“The Economist”: SHIK-u i Berishës në trafikun e organeve
Prestigjiozja britanike, në një shkrim të publikuar sot, rimerr çështjen e trafikut të organeve. Ajo shkruan se reputacioni i Kosovës është dëmtuar rëndë pas këtyre akuzave. Por dy dokumente të dala në dritë së fundmi, që publikohen nga “The Economist” janë tepër të rëndë. “Këto dokumente do alarmojnë edhe kritikët më të mëdhenj të Martit,” shkruan e përjavshmja. Sipas saj, bëhet fjalë për një dokument të tribunalit të Hagës dhe një tjetër të UNMIK.
Dokumentet japin të dhëna për trafikun e organeve. Por dy gjëra bien në sy: së pari sepse në dokument flitet për Ramush Haradinajn, e vëllain e tij, dhe së dyti dokumenti sekret thotë se “operacionet bëheshin me mbështetjen e operativëve të policisë sekrete të ish- qeverisë së Sali Berishës”.
“The Economist” thotë se që tani ka nisur gjuetia ndaj këtyre dëshmitarëve dhe panorama është e zezë. “Kjo është tragjedi,” shkruan “The Economist”, “pasi të gjithë tashmë duam të dimë të vërtetën, jo vetëm ata njerëz që kanë humbur të afërmit”.