EU in Kosovo charges two with organ trafficking

by Reuters
Monday, 13 June 2011 18:10 GMT

* Turkish surgeon, Israeli charged

* Donors lured with cash in exchange for kidneys

* International warrants issued

* Prosecution says at least 30 illegal transplants performed

PRISTINA, June 13 (Reuters) - Kosovo's European Union justice mission has charged a Turk and an Israeli citizen with illegally trafficking organs at a clinic in Pristina, the EU's police and justice mission EULEX said on Monday.

The charges against Yusuf Ercin Sonmez, a Turkish surgeon, and Moshe Harel, a citizen of Israel, include trafficking in persons, unlawful medical activity and organized crime.

"Warrants for their arrest have been issued by the District Court in Pristina and both suspects are subject to international wanted notices, issued by Interpol," said EULEX spokesman Blerim Krasniqi.

Kosovo police believes Moshe Harel was instrumental in finding people in need of a kidney transplant and luring to the clinic in Pristina donors from poor countries by offering what were huge sums of money to them.

Seven others, all Kosovo citizens, including the director of the Medicus clinic Lutfi Dervishi, have been charged by EULEX on the same case with similar offences and are waiting the start of the trial.

Police learnt about the transplants three years ago when a Turkish citizen was stopped at Pristina airport after he donated a kidney.

The prosecution says donors from Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey, were promised around 15,000 euros (${esc.dollar}21,500) while the recipients paid between 80,000 and 100,000 euros for their organ transplants.

The offences were allegedly committed in 2008 in the outskirts of Pristina at the Medicus clinic, where the prosecution says at least 30 illegal transplants were performed.

Similar suspicions forced the EU to create a special task force in Brussels to investigate claims by the Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty that members of the Kosovo Liberation Army loyal to now-Prime Minister Hashim Thaci harvested the organs of some captives, mainly Serbs, during 1999 conflict with Serbia.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. (Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; editing by Benet Koleka and Matthew Jones)

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