Albanians refuse meeting in organ removal probe

Other News Materials 11 August 2009 06:03 (UTC +04:00)

An Albanian family refused on Monday to meet a European human rights team investigating a Serbian allegation that Serb civilians had been kidnapped in Kosovo in 1999, taken to Albania and had organs removed, Reuters reported.

The Council of Europe team, accompanied by Albanian justice ministry officials, wanted to talk to the Katuci family about allegations that their house had been used as a makeshift clinic to harvest organs from Serbs abducted during the 1999 conflict between Serb forces and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Witnesses and television pictures from the village of Rripe in the north-central Mat region showed angry villagers blocking the visitors in a two-hour standoff.

Dick Marty, the Swiss senator who is leading the inquiry by the Strasbourg-based Council, met Serbian and Albanian officials last week and was not present.

"We want the general prosecutor to come here, to allow them in. They have no documents," said Abdulla Katuci, 78. Women of his family shouted at the Albanian officials, saying they had no right to investigate for a second time.

Family members had previously said they had "never harmed anyone" and were eager to clear their name.

U.N. investigators searched the Katuci house thoroughly in 2004 for evidence of organ harvesting. They found blood stains, gauze in the garbage area and, dug out from an area near the river flowing below the meadow, syringes.

Villagers would not let them dig up graves in the local cemetery to exhume bodies, saying relatives were buried there, and the case was dropped for lack of evidence.

The allegations resurfaced last year in a book by Carla Del Ponte, the former chief United Nations prosecutor for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, who said there had been reports that some 300 Serbians held in Albania had had organs removed.

Serbia then asked the Council of Europe to persuade Albania to allow a new investigation into the allegations -- which both Albania and Kosovo deny.

Albanian prosecutors say the issue has already been investigated by local authorities amd U.N. war crimes tribunal investigators and proved untrue. (