Ex-prosecutor outlines Kosovo organ trafficking trail

17th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Ex UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said Friday that her team had visited a blood-stained house in Albania where organs were thought to have been taken from prisoners during the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict.

Her comments in a Swiss newspaper came after a draft Council of Europe report accused Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and other commanders of the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of having set up organ trafficking.

Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney general, made similar allegations in a 2008 book but they were dismissed by Albanian and Kosovar officials as unfounded.

"We, that is the prosecution of the Yugolavia tribunal in The Hague, were ourselves in the so-called yellow house in northern Albania where the crime took place," Del Ponte told the daily Tages-Anzeiger.

"We found traces of blood there. And we saw clothes that were stained with blood. That was evidence that something surgical could have taken place there," she added.

Del Ponte, who is currently the Swiss ambassador in Argentina, said she had seen photos and reports, and had witness accounts to support suspicions of organ trafficking.

"These showed that something was done there not to animals but to humans," she added, also pointing to evidence of a mass grave for the victims in Albania.

Her team had to stop the investigation before they could gather more evidence to warrant a formal prosecution, after being blocked by Albanian officials and the court's limited mandate, which did not cover the Balkan state, according to Del Ponte.

Kosovo's outgoing prime minister Hashim Thaci dismissed on Thursday the latest allegations of involvement in trafficking of organs from Serb prisoners as "scandalous" and "a fabrication.

The report was presented by Council of Europe rapporteur, former Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty.

© 2010 AFP

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