Ex-prosecutor ready to probe Kosovo trafficking claims

1st March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Former UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte is ready to carry out a probe in Kosovo on claims of organ trafficking, according to an interview published Tuesday.

"It is necessary to put in place an independent and international institution that would be responsible for the investigation and witness protection," said Del Ponte in an interview with Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung.

"I am personally tempted to take on the Kosovo investigations," said the former prosecutor and ex-ambassador of Switzerland to Argentina.

Del Ponte had claimed in a 2008 book that Kosovo Albanians trafficked organs taken from Serbs during the 1998-1999 war, but they were dismissed by Albanian and Kosovar officials as unfounded.

She had welcomed a report by fellow countryman Dick Marty for the Council of Europe in December, in which he accused Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and other commanders of the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army of having set up organ trafficking.

"It is clear that we have too little elements to put forward a charge, but the indications are serious," she told the newspaper.

Del Ponte pointed out that she outlined the facts surrounding organ trafficking in her 2008 book, but there was little support for a serious investigation into the allegations.

"Albania mainly refused" to cooperate, she noted.

The UN mission in Kosovo opened a probe in 2004, but aborted it following the lack of evidence.

In a December interview with Swiss press, Del Ponte said her team had visited a blood-stained house in Albania where organs were thought to have been taken from prisoners.

"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 had 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.

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.

© 2011 AFP

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