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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Council of Europe to investigate Kosovo organ trafficking allegations
Kiely Lewandowski at 7:54 AM ET

[JURIST] The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) [official website] announced Wednesday that it will prepare a report [press release] on allegations of organ trafficking in Kosovo. Former prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Carla Del Ponte [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] has alleged in a new book [JURIST report] that about 300 Serbian and other non-Albanian prisoners were victims of organ trafficking during the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo, but that a 2003 probe by her ICTY team failed to obtain sufficient evidence to prosecute. In response, parliamentarians submitted a motion [text] in April requesting that the Assembly investigate the organ trafficking charges. PACE officials forwarded the issue to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights [official website] earlier this month, according to officials from PACE's Serbian delegation [official website]. B92 has more. AP has additional coverage.

Del Ponte said reliable sources told her that members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) [official website] took the organs of young, healthy prisoners for black-market sales [Kosovo Compromise report]. The Swiss Foreign Ministry later barred Del Ponte from promoting the book because it was inconsistent with her role as the Swiss ambassador. In March, the office of Serbia's war crimes prosecutor [official website] said that it was investigating "informal statements" [JURIST report] received from ICTY investigators alleging illegal organ harvesting. The next month, Serbia announced [JURIST report] that it planned to officially request that the ICTY resume a probe into the organ trafficking allegations, even though Kosovo Justice Minister Nekibe Kelmendi dismissed the allegations as "fabrications." The same month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] urged [JURIST report] leaders of Kosovo and Albania to launch an investigation into the allegations, but as of May had not received a response.

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