Kosovo medics accused of trafficking kidneys

Surgeons performing an operation (generic image) The alleged operations took place in 2008

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EU prosecutors have accused seven people, including doctors and a health official, of trafficking kidneys through a clinic in Kosovo.

International trafficking allegedly took place in 2008 at the Medicus clinic in the capital, Pristina.

Kidney "donors" and recipients were of different nationalities, prosecutors said in a press release.

The prosecutors form part of the EU's law and order mission, Eulex, in the breakaway Serbian province.

Interpol arrest warrants in connection with the case have also been issued for a Turkish and an Israeli national.

Names and other details of the case are due to be made public at the end of this month.

The Associated Press news agency released some details this week, saying it had seen a copy of the indictment.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority declared the province to be an independent state in 2008, a decision recognised by many Western states but still resisted by Serbia and its allies.

'Led by a surgeon'

The indictment was filed at Pristina's district court last month and follows an investigation launched in 2008 by Kosovan and UN police officers.

The suspects are accused of trafficking in human organs, organised crime, unlawful exercise of medical activities and abusing official authority.

One is described as a "person that previously worked at a senior level in the Ministry of Health".

EU prosecutor Jonathan Ratel is quoted by AP as saying in the indictment that an "organised criminal group" had trafficked persons into Kosovo for the purpose of removing "human organs for transplant to other persons".

Some 20 foreign nationals "were recruited with false promises of payments" in 2008.

"These victims were recruited in other countries, then transported and received at Pristina Airport through the false promise of payments for the removal of their kidneys," Mr Ratel reportedly says.

Donors were promised up to 14,500 euros (£12,300, $19,900) while recipients were required to pay between 80,000 and 100,000 euros.

Donors came from Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey and lived in "extreme poverty or acute financial distress".

A Kosovan surgeon is accused of leading the criminal group.

He allegedly recruited a Turkish doctor to help him perform the organ transplants at Medicus, a private clinic, which has since closed down.

An Israeli citizen was allegedly involved in "identifying, recruiting and transporting victims" and "ensuring the delivery of cash payments by electronic bank transfer" prior to surgery.

Kosovo has been haunted by another alleged case of organ-trafficking dating back to the war in 1999.

In that case, which has never been proven, Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) militants allegedly trafficked the organs of Serb captives they later killed.

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