Belgrade insists: Albanians killed Serbs for organs

Georgia Materials 29 October 2008 20:20 (UTC +04:00)

A Serbian war crimes prosecutor said in an interview released Wednesday that Albania was hiding evidence of a mass murder committed to harvest victims' organs during the Kosovo war, reported dpa.

The unverified claims have stirred up bad memories and bad blood between the countries.

"Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha. ... ordered security services to destroy documents on Serbs who disappeared in Kosovo, their transport to Albania and the trafficking of their organs," the prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic, told the daily Press.

The interview comes after Vukcevic visited Albania on Monday to give his counterpart "evidence" that is meant to back claims that some 300 Serbs were kidnapped in Kosovo between 1999 and 2001, brought to Albania, and stripped of their organs.

Their kidneys, lungs, livers and heats were then sent worldwide from the Tirana airport to buyers on the global black market of human organs. At least that is a story which many in Serbia take for granted.

The unsubstantiated reports say organs of mostly young Serbs were dissected in the surgical department of a prison near the north Albanian town of Tropoja, which is close to the border with Kosovo. Kosovo's Albanian majority declared independence from Serbia in February.

Reports also refer to the infamous "yellow house," 40 kilometres north of Tirana, where doctors also allegedly removed organs from Serb victims.

Corpses were eventually dumped in the Deva mine or buried at other locations, according to the report. But the Albanian state prosecutor, Ina Rama, rejected Vukcevic's request for an investigation based on his documents. Officials in Tirana and Pristina dismiss the claims as nonsense.

Indeed, the reality of the minimal available infrastructure and services in the northern Albanian has many questioning whether any part of the story could be true.

"Something like this requires a refined organization, technology, perfect knowledge and equally perfect logistics," Serbian neurosurgeon Momcilo Djordjevic told the weekly Nin. "All that Albania could not have had at that time and doesn't have it today."

Experts have also said it is hard to imagine complex surgery being carried out in what is considered one of Europe's poorest, most backward regions, which lacks solid-surface roads and stable power and water supplies.

The Belgrade media house B92 aired a report about the sites of the alleged crimes. But it neither proved nor disproved the allegations.

The report showed the "yellow house," which is now white. There was also a conversation with its owners, who insist it was never yellow, but always the same gray-brown as surrounding houses.

The case was investigated by The Hague-based International Criminal tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) three years ago. The investigation did not turn up enough evidence to warrant further inquiries.

Yet the snowball of presumption, speculation, politics and smoke continues to grow in Serbia. Any and all claims seem to be allowed.

Even the former ICTY prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, spoke of organ trafficking without evidence of it, basing her story on hearsay. Serbs now point to that statement as further proof.

Vukcevic directly accused Berisha of covering up the trail, under pressure from the former Kosovo premier and wartime guerrilla leader, Ramush Haradinaj. Berisha and Haradinaj are favourite targets of Belgrade's attacks.

On behalf of the European Parliament, Swiss politician Dick Marty is due to visit Albania in 2008, to survey organ trafficking claims in the field. He plans a report in June, which gives all sides enough time to come up, but also tamper with evidence.