The author of the Council of Europe report that initiated Kosovo’s high profile investigation into the country’s illegal organ trade must be called as a witness in the trial, Pristina’s District Court decided Wednesday. The Court accepted prosecutor Jonathan Rathel’s request to call Dick Marty, Council of Europe Special Rapporteur, as a witness. Marty is expected to testify in July.
The investigation into illegal transplants in Kosovo started in November 2008, when a 28-year old Turkish citizen became ill while waiting for a flight at the airport in Kosovo’s capital of Pristina. After he was examined at a local hospital, it came to light that he had a kidney removed at the Medicus clinic near Pristina.
Marty’s 2010 report also described illegal organ harvesting that went on at Medicus during the Kosovo conflict in 1999, adding a new dimension to the organ trafficking operation discovered in 2008. During the 1999 conflict, members of the Kosovo Liberation Army under the leadership of the current Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, allegedly harvested organs from Serb war prisoners.
Harvesting allegedly continued after the conflict, with a new set of victims. Poor donors from Kosovo, Russia, Moldova, Turkey, and Kazahstan were lured with promises of payments of up to US$20,000 per organ, while recipients paid up to US$132,000 per kidney. So far, 30 illegal transplants were identified at Medicus.
A Canadian citizen who received a kidney at Medicus testified in March about his experience.
The case is prosecuted by the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX). EULEX is working with the Russian authorities, and has requested that two Russian victims identified in the case testify.
The Medicus trial includes nine defendants.