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23rd Aug 2019

EU and US accused of cover-up on organ trafficking

Western governments have known about the criminal activities of senior politicians in Kosovo for a long time, Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty has said, adding that Europe is now unwilling to properly investigate the situation for fear of being exposed.

"Western countries knew all the time what was happening in Kosovo but nobody did anything about it," Mr Marty said in an interview with the Slovenian daily Delo on Saturday (12 February).

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  • Dick Marty said Brussels would do everything it could to make the case sink into oblivion (Photo: EUobserver)

A report published by Mr Marty in December sent shockwaves through the international community when it linked Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci to a gruesome crime ring which carried out organ harvesting and heroin smuggling in the region.

Serb prisoners held in special detention camps were killed and had their organs extracted for sale on the international black market in the 1990s, claimed the 27-page document.

A former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), Mr Thaci's name was frequently cited in intelligence and diplomatic reports from Kosovo sent by western information agencies such as the FBI, MI6, "but the western politicians persistently remained quiet," Mr Marty said in the interview.

"Everybody kept quiet. That's the real scandal, not my report in which I only wrote what many have known for a long time," he added.

That claim appears to be supported by a recently leaked US diplomatic cable which suggests former Dutch state secretary for European Affairs Frans Timmermans warned the US in 2007 that senior Kosovo officials were heavily involved in criminal activities.

"Kosovo is run by people who live off crime ... [they have] no other means to support themselves," Mr Timmermans reportedly told US officials in The Hague, according to the cable published by WikiLeaks.

An EU mission in Kosovo, Eulex, is currently investigating the recent allegations, but the supervisory body is plagued by internal problems that will prevent witnesses giving real evidence, Mr Marty said.

"There is no secrecy. All translators are local, there are many local staff. That is why even the most confidential information has been systematically leaking," he said.

"If I gave [Eulex] the names of the witnesses I interviewed [as called for by the EU], their lives would immediately be under threat."

Instead, a special investigation unit from abroad with a credible witness protection programme is needed, suggested the Swiss politician - something he feels Europe will oppose as it will expose their previous unwillingness to act.

"Europe is never going to accept that. Because it knows that my witnesses would really talk and reveal that a large part of the European politicians knew all along what was going on in Kosovo. Do you really think that Brussels wants to hear something like this," he said.

Organised crime problem dogs EU record on Kosovo

Four years after EU police came to Kosovo it has not indicted any top suspects on organised crime, posing questions about its work and the integrity of Kosovo's leaders.

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