Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci on Thursday angrily dismissed allegations of involvement in organ trafficking as “scandalous,” describing the Council of Europe’s report a “lie.”
“The report is scandalous, a fabrication and a lie. Its goal is to devalue both the [Kosovo Liberation Army] KLA and the independence of Kosovo,” Thaci told reporters in Pristina.
He said he would “consider all legal and political possibilities to confront” the report presented by the Council of Europe rapporteur, former Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty.
The report accuses Thaci of heading a group within the KLA, which fought Serbia in 1998 and 1999, that set up a network of unofficial prisons in Albania.
It alleges one of Thaci’s allies operated a ring for the “forcible extraction of human organs for the purposes of trafficking” from the prisoners, mainly Serbs.
In Belgrade, Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic said there had been about 500 victims of the organ trafficking, about 400 Serbs and 100 “non-Albanians” who had their organs removed. Vukcevic has led an investigation into the allegations for three years.
In Paris, Marty said he could not estimate the number of victims, but added that among them were both Serbian and Kosovar civilians.
“The facts described in the report have been known by numerous persons” for years, but the affair has not been investigated in order to avoid destabilizing Kosovo, he said.
Marty, who has also investigated secret CIA prisons in Europe, said it “is necessary to put an end to this hypocrisy and do the job.”
“We delivered sufficient information for a serious investigation,” he said.
However, he admitted serious obstacles could yet prevent an independent investigation, as neither the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, nor the EU rule of law mission in Kosovo, could probe crimes allegedly committed in Albania.
“There is naturally judicial authority in Kosovo, as Kosovars are suspected” of the involvement in the affair, he said, adding that further judicial moves would depend on “political will.”
Vukcevic also insisted that “without cooperation between prosecutors in Kosovo, Albania and Serbia, there will be no progress in this investigation.”