Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New details in Kosovo organ trade case

1 December 2009 | 10:03 | Source: Večernje novosti
BELGRADE -- Some EU member-states will very soon join the investigation into the fate of the kidnapped Kosovo Serbs, a Belgrade daily writes.

The case, known also in the media as the Yellow House, after a house in northern Albania where the victims were allegedly held before being murdered, was picked up last year by the Serbian War Crimes Prosecution.

The prosecution believes that hundreds of Kosovo Serb civilians were kidnapped by the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in 1999, to be taken to neighboring Albania and murdered for their vital organs, which were later sold in the black market.

Now, the newspaper says, it has emerged that after the 1999 NATO attacks on Serbia, four Czech citizens also went missing in Kosovo. According to this, it is suspected that they too became the victims of the human organ trade in northern Albania.

Serbian investigators will soon visit some of the countries in the region where the potential witnesses are, according to the report.

“Recently, the border police discovered several men transporting drugs,” the daily’s source close to the investigation said.

One of them had 30 kilograms of heroin in his possession, while the other carried five. The third, it turned out, was a human trafficker. Police immediately placed them all in custody.

"As time went by," said the unnamed source, "they started talking, and said that the drugs were being trafficked from Kosovo to the EU market. During the interview, some names popped up that were mentioned before in the human organ trafficking case. To us, that meant that a connection had been established, and that we got ourselves new witnesses – two, it appears, immediate witnesses."

But the source could not say where the witnesses were or when they might be interviewed regarding the case, and explained that the reason for the secrecy was also their safety.

“We found out that their bosses and accomplices in Kosovo left them high and dry and that they were on their own now,” the source said.

According to unofficial information, however, one of the witnesses has confirmed the location of a mass grave where about 20 bodies of the victims had been buried.

The investigation about these crimes has expanded beyond Serbia's borders.

The Foreign Ministry is currently working to establish connections with European institutions that would help the domestic investigators interview potential witnesses by means of bilateral cooperation.

Meanwhile, War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukčević would not comment on the daily's report, saying only, "It's true that we have new findings. But, the investigation is ongoing. We expect to have a much clearer picture by the end of the year."

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