Kosovo organ traffic proof

2009-12-13 19:30

Belgrade - Serbia has fresh evidence of the alleged trafficking of organs taken from Kosovo Serb prisoners in northern Albania during and after the 1998-1999 conflict, its war crimes prosecutor said on Sunday.

"We have new proof that will first be presented to the Council of Europe's envoy, Dick Marty, before being made public," Vladimir Vukcevic told Beta news agency.

Vukcevic said his office had four new witnesses, but provided no further details.

"In this phase we are just proving that such a monstrous crime was committed, that there was human organ trafficking, but we are still far away from the perpetrators," the prosecutor said.

Marty, rapporteur of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, visited Serbia, Kosovo and Albania in August to investigate allegations that ethnic Albanian rebels killed up to 500 Kosovo Serbs in Albania in order to sell their organs abroad.

The claims first arose in the memoirs published last year of former UN chief war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, which prompted the Council of Europe to reopen the case briefly investigated by her office five years ago.

In her book, Del Ponte said organs were removed at a "yellow house" since identified as belonging to a family called Katuci.

Earlier this year Albania rejected a Serb request for a probe into the case on the basis of evidence and testimonies from more than 130 witnesses collected by Vukcevic.

The conflict between Kosovo guerrillas and forces loyal to late Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic left around 10 000 people dead, the majority ethnic Albanians from the breakaway southern Serbian province of Kosovo.

More than 1 900 missing are still unaccounted for in connection with the Kosovo conflict, including up to 500 Serbs and other non-Albanians.