A Turkish doctor suspected in the Kosovo kidney smuggling case agreed to testify, his lawyer Murat Sofuoglu told the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN). The European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX).is prosecuting the case.
Yusuf Sonmez, nicknamed “Doctor Vampire” by the Turkish media, admitted to performing operations at the Medicus clinic in Pristina, Kosovo, but denied any wrongdoing.
“I can confirm that he did perform operations, but this was not a crime, as there was a letter from the Ministry of Health which confirmed Medicus’ license to conduct transplants,” Sofuoglu told BIRN.
Sofuoglu tried to attend a hearing Wednesday at the District Court in Pristina. However, presiding judge Arkadiusz Sedek asked him to leave.
“This shows that the judge is prejudiced against my client and I will advise him not to come here, because I believe the court may be biased,” said Sofuoglu. Sonmez has agreed to testify via video from Turkey.
In addition to being tried in Kosovo, Sonmez was also indicted in Turkey. He was arrested in January 2011 in Istanbul, on charges of starting an organized crime group and performing at least 11 illegal transplants at Medicus. He was released on bail. At the end of September 2011, a Turkish public prosecutor asked that Sonmez be sentenced to 171 years in prison.
The alleged ring leader of the organ smuggling operation connected to Medicus, Israeli doctor Moshe Harel, was reportedly arrested in Israel on Thursday. Harel was charged with organized crime and organ smuggling.
According to his lawyer, Sonmez continues to work in Istanbul.