Belgrade, 21 March 2008 – The prosecutor is to look into the sale of organs of Kosovo Serbs who vanished during and after the 1999 bombing.
“We are checking some informal statements we obtained through operative work that, in 1999, two trucks carrying imprisoned Kosovo Serbs were sent to Albania,” said War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukčević.
He said that the informal information had been obtained from Hague Tribunal investigators.
According to those sources, there are unregistered mass graves with bodies of murdered Serbs in Albania.
In her book, “The Hunt”, to be published in Italy on April 3, the former Hague Tribunal Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte states that, during investigations into war crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, against Serbs and other non-Albanians, the prosecutor’s office was informed that persons who disappeared during the Kosovo conflict were used in organ smuggling operations.
The office obtained information that UNMIK investigators and officials had received from groups of so-called reliable journalists, according to whom, Kosovo Albanians had transferred 300 Serb and other non-Albanian hostages in trucks to northern Albania in the summer of 1999.
Those prisoners were first imprisoned in camps in places like Kukes and Tropoje.
According to journalist sources, the younger and fitter prisoners were examined by doctors, got food and were not beaten. After that, they were kept in custody in other centers in Burel and the surrounding area.
One group was held in barracks behind a yellow house some twenty kilometers to the south of that town, states the former prosecutor.
One room in that yellow house, according to the journalists, served as an operation room where doctors extracted prisoners’ organs.
Afterwards, the organs, according to the sources, were sent abroad from Rinas airport near Tirana where they were used in transplantations for patients who had paid for it.
Daily Večerenje Novosti brings more details from the book, which says that the Hague and UNMIK investigators, and several journalist, along with an Albanian prosecutor, made a trip to the yellow house in 2003.
“It was now white,” Del Ponte writes. “Despite the fact that investigators discovered traces of yellow paint on it, the owner denied it was ever repainted.”
In its vicinity, investigators also found pieces of gauze, used syringes, two plastic IV solution bags, “petrified in mud”, empty medicine bottles, including muscle relaxants used during surgeries.
Inside the house itself, forensics discovered traces of blood on the walls and on the floor in one of the rooms. A section of the floor, sized 180 by 60 centimeters, was clean.
“The owner of the house offered a series of explanations to the investigators when it came to the origin of the blood traces. First, he said that his wife gave birth in that room many years ago. But when the wife made her statement and said that all their children were born elsewhere, he claimed that his family used the room to slaughter animals in order to celebrate a Muslim holiday,” Del Ponte writes.
As for the Albanian prosecutor who accompanied them, the former chief Hague prosecutor says he at one point bragged he had cousins who were KLA members.
“There are no graves of Serbs here,” the Albanian official said. “But, if they took the Serbs from the Kosovo border and killed them, they did the right thing”.
Describing detailed information she has on the matter, Del Ponte writes that detectives had had to give up on this case because further investigation had proved “impossible”.