Friday, May 25, 2012

Kosovo organ trafficking mastermind arrested

PRISTINA - The suspected mastermind behind an organ trafficking network, sought for years by Kosovo authorities, has been arrested in Israel, EU special prosecutor Jonathan Ratel said Thursday.

"We have received information that Moshe Harel has been arrested in Israel on organ trafficking and other related offences. We are seeking confirmation with the Israeli authorities," he told AFP.

If confirmed, the arrest could lead to a breakthrough at the trial of seven people accused of organ trafficking and illegal transplants at the Medicus clinic in the Kosovo capital in 2008, the French agency said.

Harel was arrested in Pristina that year but fled Kosovo after he was released from detention.

Kosovo authorities subsequently issued an international arrest warrant.

According to the indictment, at least 30 illegal kidney removals and transplants were carried out in the Pristina clinic in 2008.

The donors were from poor Eastern European and Central Asian countries, who were promised about 15,000 euros to become organ donors.

The indicment describes Israeli national Harel as the mastermind of a network for recruiting donors and finding recipients.

The seven suspects on trial include former Kosovo health secretary Ilir Rrecaj and Lutfi Dervishi, a prominent Pristina urologist, writes AFP.

Another suspect in the case is Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez, accused of having carried out illegal operations to remove organs. He is also indicted in Turkey.

The Kosovo clinic was raided by police in 2008 after a Turkish man collapsed at Pristina airport waiting for a flight back to Istanbul after having a kidney removed.

The case is being tried by EULEX, the European rule of law mission in Kosovo, set up to help the local judiciary handle sensitive cases after the territory declared independence from Serbia in 2008, concludes AFP.

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