Organsko Kosovo

Organsko Kosovo


Kraja in preprodaja srbskih ledvic na Kosovu naj bi se dogajala neposredno ob koncu vojne na Kosovu leta 1999. Javnost v Srbiji o sistematičnem izrezovanju ledvic sploh ne dvomi, med tem ko uradna Priština vsakršno debato o tej temi označuje za srbsko propagando. V tokratnem balkan ekspresu se pogovarjamo z raziskovalnim novinarjem Michaelom Montgomeryjem, ki je s svojim raziskovalnim delom sprožil celo serijo dogodkov, vezanih na krajo in preprodajo organov na Kosovu.


Kot dodatno branje pa spodaj objavljamo še prepis celotnega intervjuja z Michaelom Montgomeryjem.


RŠ: Who were your sources, how many were there, what did they tell you?

MM: Keep in mind this happened a long time ago. It's kind of amazing how long ago it happened and some institutions are still dealing with it. So basically I and a colleague of mine were investigating the violence in Kosovo that came right after the war after the UN and NATO moved in and we were looking at what the Serbian army and Serbian paramilitaries did during the war and after the war and their efforts to cover up their crimes and, as we know, moving bodies and victims out of Kosovo and burying them or hiding them in Serbia and then we started picking up information about what the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) had been doing in terms of abductions and the whole issue of the missing people. We were able to establish connections with men who had fought in the war with the KLA. They were obviously ethnic Albanians, some were from Kosovo, some from Montenegro, some from Albania. They were for the most part low level fighters, drivers… They had not been high up in the KLA. And I think one of the reasons they decided to talk to us is they were disgusted, in a way, with what happened after the war. They had fought for independence from Serbia and they believed in what they fought for. They just saw a lot of stuff that they didn't like, a lot of people trying to make money in a mafia way but also just innocent people being abused or killed and I think that was their main motivation in talking to us. They just didn't like what they saw. But on the other hand they couldn't speak out publicly about it because they felt like if they did that they would be really at risk. And I think that it's been shown that people who have tried to be witnesses in trials or in various legal proceedings, that they have definitely been at risk. There's been a lot of witness intimidation, people have been murdered and I think that's a concern for this new court as they prepare to issue indictments.

RŠ: Which were the means of courts and other institutions dealing with issues of crimes committed during and after the war with regards to witness protection. To the extent of my knowledge the witness protection programme was run quite poorly.

MM: Oh absolutely. There has been a lot of problems during the U.N.M.I.K. (U.N. mission to Kosovo) and then EULEX, which is the EU mission. I believe there was political pressure not to go after senior level KLA people because the Western powers and some members of the UN wanted to preserve good relations with the KLA. They wanted to keep the peace and they wanted to encourage Kosovo politicians to make a deal with Belgrade, with Serbia. And so as a result of that in 2003, 2004 there was a lot of pressure on war crimes prosecutors in Kosovo not to go after the big fish, the big KLA leaders. I believe that that is true. When it comes to witness protection, I agree with you that it has not been well done. And part of that is lack of resources. Part of that is lack of experience and there's a huge problem with language. There are not that many non-Albanians who speak Albanian and so for translators and interpreters they had to rely on people who are from the area and that can put them at risk. That can put the information at risk as well. So it's actually very difficult to investigate in Kosovo and keep it secret and also to keep witnesses safe. I believe in the case of this new court the special chambers in the Hague have agreements with different countries who have agreed to take in some of these witnesses if they are relocated. I don't know if that's happened but I think in the case of this Kosovo investigation they need to relocate the witnesses and their families to keep them safe.

RŠ: To the concrete issue at hand: The Yellow house has been publicized a lot and has garnered a lot of media attention. Can you share with us, your experience of visiting this place, focusing on the investigation that took place there. What happened to the evidence and what is your general perspective on the whole investigation?

MM: We had an investigation and we developed this information about the yellow house and about another location in Fushë Krujë that is much closer to the airport. We took this information to the United Nations missing persons department because we felt like we couldn't go any further with the information. We felt like we couldn't go into Albania and try to dig up bodies or remains or what have you. We did not publish that information at the time but it was eventually leaked and became public even though we never published it so the information we had was not fully corroborated. We didn't know if it was true. When we took the information to the United Nations in 2003 we had some information that something had happened in the yellow house. It wasn't clear if there had actually been surgical procedures or whether the organ harvesting happened at this other house closer to the airport. The UN's view was that they should just go in and see what they could find out. A team from the prosecutor's office of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) together with a team from UNMIK went to the yellow house. We were with them, we recorded and the result of the visit was unclear. It seemed like investigators were not getting a true story from the family who lived in the house. There were medicine containers, there were IV drip bags, there was indications of blood stains in one of the rooms. It all seemed very strange but it wasn't proof. Nonetheless family's explanations for why that stuff was there was just not really believable. Evidence was gathered and sent back to Kosovo, UNMIK eventually sent it to the ICTY in The Hague and it was supposed to be analyzed. We later learned through the work of the Swiss investigator, special rapporteur Dick Marty that the tribunal destroyed all that evidence without analyzing it. They've never actually publicly confirmed that but Dick Marty says he got them to confirm that. Would it have been proof of anything, I don't know. The fact that evidence was destroyed when it really should have been returned to UNMIK in Kosovo, I think that's just an example of one of the many mistakes that has been made along the way. I also want to highlight there were a lot of tensions between UNMIK and the ICTY. Documents that were later leaked showed that the ICTY was refusing to cooperate with UNIMIK after this investigation came to light. So there were a lot of internal problems and unfortunately they impacted this investigation. In 2008 when Carla del Ponte, the former prosecutor for the ICTY published her memoirs, she included in her book an information that we had provided to the UN. That's when this whole organ trafficking thing went public and once it went public then the propaganda people got involved, especially in Belgrade. They concocted all sorts of crazy stories. And also on the Albanian side, once the Serbian propaganda machine got going, the Kosovars could say: “Hey this is all just a Serbian plot to destroy Kosovo.” It really got out of hand at that point.

RŠ: Mistakes were obviously made on all levels, from the initial investigation all the way up to the Hague tribunal. Could you perhaps speculate on the reasons for such errors? Do you think some of the mistakes were unintentional or, on the other hand, were some things intentionally ignored in order not to cause some additional turmoil in the region?

MM: I think that's a really good question. I think that some of the mistakes were not part of some grand conspiracy. I don't believe that the ICTY deliberately destroyed that evidence in order to undermine the investigation. I just don't believe that's true. I think that they possibly did it out of a little bit of incompetence but also they had concluded that that evidence was not going to help them. The reason ICTY was interested in this information about the alleged organ trafficking is that in some of our confidential documents the name of Ramush Haradinaj was mentioned. He is the former KLA commander that is a big political player in Kosovo. At the time, the ICTY was trying to get evidence against Haradinaj. He was put on trial and later acquitted. They wanted to get him and they thought that this information coming from the yellow house might somehow help. When they realized that it wasn't going to help them, then they concluded that they didn't need to keep the evidence any longer and they destroyed it. But what they should have done was returned it to UNMIK. I think that there were deliberate efforts to protect the KLA leadership but not necessarily in this investigation. Coming out of the riots in the spring of 2004, there was a sense that in order to keep the peace they could not have war crimes prosecutors targeting senior KLA. That could have had a direct effect on limiting investigations. I'm not saying that they were directly working with people like Hashim Thaci or Ramush Haradinaj but still, they didn't want to rock the boat. Hey, we saw that going back to the Bosnian war. There was a reluctance to use military force against the Bosnian Serbs. There was a reluctance to really go after Slobodan Milošević at one point because they wanted to keep these negotiations going. Obviously, eventually Milošević was indicted as was Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić and others. But the problem here is that once this information about the organ trafficking became public then, it became a much bigger issue. Then it became a political issue and I think it posed big challenges for Western policymakers in terms of what to do. I think this is amazing. I think it's a miracle that anything ever happened and it's only really because Dick Marty report essentially alleged or essentially confirmed, as did many of the things we had found, that there had been some kind of a small scale organ harvesting effort. But the bigger picture was that he portrayed the circle of people around Hashim Thaci as a criminal enterprise that had been involved in political murders, drug trafficking etc... It was a very powerful report and very controversial. That in motion gave political cover for people in Western governments to push for some kind of accountability and ultimately that led to the creation of this special court. But hardly anyone in the West even thinks about the Kosovo war anymore. So it's pretty remarkable that they've been able to put together this special court.

RŠ: Dick Marty, a former member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, published his own report on this topic back in 2010. How much overlap is there between your and Mr Marty’s sources and findings?

MM: That's a very very good question. If you read the Dick Marty report really closely, you will see that the report could not have been written unless they had eyewitness sources, who actually saw people being murdered for their kidneys. They describe it in specific detail and what their sources say is that the yellow house was not the place where these surgical procedures happened. The yellow house was where people were held and murdered, possibly women were raped there. Marty says that the actual organ harvesting happened at a house or a clinic closer to the airport and we believe it's the same house we had located earlier on in the investigation but were at the time just unable to get more information. Close reading of the Marty report suggests that they have inside sources, much higher up than we had. We had very low level guys. It seems like they made a couple of leaps higher up into the maybe not inner circle but certainly much more important sources. I would say that they took our findings, our allegations and they took them to a much higher level.

RŠ: Going back to the investigation at the Yellow house at which you were present, could you give some more detail on the investigation itself? How thorough was it and how come it did not result in more than just circumstantial evidence?

MM: Just to be clear, I had visited the yellow house before just to locate it. We had a photograph from one of our sources who had described some of the things that he said happened, that people were killed there. We had a photograph and a rough location. I was able to go there in summer of 2003 and actually find the house. We took a GPS reading and then subsequently in early 2004 the U.N. went on this investigative mission. So in terms of the blood they used luminol spray which shows areas, where there may have been blood. It doesn't mean they found blood stains but Luminol indicated large areas in what was basically the living room, where there had been blood. They didn't find direct blood samples but they found this. there's a slight possibility of a false positive when you use luminol, but they felt pretty strongly that they had found evidence of blood stains. When they asked the family about it, this is when it got really strange. They were there for two days at the house doing the investigation. The first response they got was from one of the men of the house, who said that woman had given birth in their room and thus, there was blood there. But the following day one of the women, who had not been there on the first day was there, and she said: “No, no, no, no. We didn't have our kids in there.” And then they said: “Oh well, this is where we slaughter animals at the end of Bajram. That just seemed weird, it didn't seem to make sense. The fact that they came up with different stories about that, rather than just saying: “Well you know, there's no blood here I don't know what you're talking about.” It just was strange. I remember the Albanian translator who the UN team from the Hague brought in saying: “Look, I'm sure they're lying about this, about what happened. They're not telling the truth about something”. And that's the way we left it. It was very inconclusive and that's why we didn't publish anything at the time. We felt like these are really serious allegations and we didn't have enough evidence. Our sources were anonymous, we hoped that we could at least find human remains but that didn't happen. So we sat on the story and we didn't publish it for a long time.

RŠ: There was strong pushback against your and Mr Marty’s report, same goes for Carla del Pontes’s claims. Along with the usual suspects, such as the Serbian media and authorities, people in higher up places firmly opposed claims of organ trafficking in post-war Kosovo and Albania, most notably the head of UNMIK,  Bernard Kouchner, and head of EULEX war crimes investigation unit, Maati Raatikainen.

MM: I think a lot of things were said before the Marty report came out I think. Here appears part of the problem. One of the reasons Bernard Kouchner reacted the way he did is that people in the Serbian media were accusing him personally of taking part in the organ trafficking. I don't know where that came from. I mean there were crazy allegations and I think that that's one of the reasons that they got that kind of response. Now, there are questions about some of the people who were working under Kouchner in that first year and their connections to people close to Hashim Thaci. But I don't think that has anything to do with the organ trafficking. Now just remember that I want to remind you one thing, that all of this happens after NATO and the UN arrive. So there is a responsibility here on the part of the West and of NATO and the UN as much as you know these people at least we know for sure that a lot of these people disappeared after the arrival of the UN and NATO. So there's a responsibility and this is when Kouchner was there at that time. So there is some responsibility but some of the allegations coming out the Serbian media by which I mean the war crimes prosecutor's office - They were making public claims that were ludicrous. And I have never understood why they would do that. In other words, those claims actually made the investigation more difficult. This is an investigation into crimes against Serbs so you think the Serbian government would want to do everything they could to make that investigation a success. But it's very political because at the time when this was all playing out the war crimes prosecutor was under pressure to go after Serbian war criminals and a lot of the public didn't like that. So when the organ trafficking case came up they were able to get a lot of publicity about the horrible things that were done to Serbs. And I think they just fabricated stories in terms of the reaction to the Marty report. You know the Marty report was not very diplomatic. I mean, I know a lot of Western diplomats who were sort of offended by his blunt language and you know, calling the acting prime minister of Kosovo a criminal and suggesting that he was running a criminal enterprise - diplomats don't like the kind of language and I think that Marty report definitely ruffled a lot of feathers. I also think that you know Maati Raatikainen was UN's war crimes investigator I think that you know he was on the team that went to the yellow house. I think that his opinions were swayed in part by just some of the crazy allegations that came out in the media. And I think he found some of those offensive. And so that again really undermines the whole investigation. Let me point out one thing: We uncovered these allegations of organ trafficking but we also uncovered evidence that people were being held in makeshift detention camps in Albania by the KLA. Well you know after we uncovered that information and did a story on it, the UN, to their credit in Kosovo, went after and indicted a couple of guys for their involvement in this in this KLA camp in Kukes and they were convicted. Now it wasn't for organ trafficking, but I say that to show that I believe our sources were credible and that in some situations the UN was willing, if they had a good case and it wasn't too sensitive, to take on these guys that were convicted.

RŠ: The event that sparked our interest in this was the Medicus trial in Prishtina where a key-witness nurse retracted her decade-old testimony in which she admitted to being present at illegal operational procedures where patients’ kidneys were willingly being cut out to be sold at the black market. Mind you, this took place in 2008 but do you believe there is any connection between this case and the events in post-war Kosovo?

MM: Yeah that's another really interesting question. So it's my understanding that in the Medicus case there was no major testimony or evidence connecting Medicus to the allegations of earlier organ harvesting. If you read that Dick Marty report he talks about connections between individuals who were involved in Medicus, one particular individual, and the allegations that the KLA or the people connected to the KLA actually killed people for their kidneys right after the war. So I believe that there is evidence that there are some connections at least with certain individuals. I don't know. I mean it's important to understand that the doctor in the middle of the Medicus case, this Turkish doctor that was operating in Istanbul in a very active group involved in allegedly illicit transplants, was active right around the time of 1999-2000 - right when we think people were being killed in Albania for their organs. So we don't have direct evidence against him, but Istanbul was very active as a place for illicit organ transplants. So when you come up to Medicus it's just a little strange that some of these same names pop up again. One thing to also keep in mind is that when we talk about whatever happened with these organ harvesting in Albania we're talking about really small numbers of people. It maybe even a handful or smaller. We're not talking, at least there's no evidence, that like hundreds of people were killed for their organs. And that to me would suggest that it wasn't necessarily about money. And here's why, and this is a question no one's ever answered. The organ trade was very active right around this time of 1999-2000 in Istanbul and they were getting people to come down from Moldova, from parts of Turkey, people who were very poor who were selling their kidneys for a couple of thousand dollars. These are the allegations, maybe up to $5000. The real money is made in doing the operations. The kidneys themselves aren't the big value, the value is having the kidneys and then doing the operations and then you can charge people hundreds of thousands of dollars. So if you think about it, why abduct people in Kosovo and move them to Albania at great risk and then kill them for their kidneys and ship their kidneys to Turkey when you can just have people coming to Turkey and you can pay them a few thousand dollars. The financial side of this doesn't really add up and that's why there's some speculation that there was some other element; that maybe there were KLA fighters or people connected that the KLA who needed kidneys and they realized they had these captives and that they could use their kidneys. We don't have answers to that. But back to your main point your main question - There has not been any clear evidence that's come out in court. Connecting Medicus to the earlier allegations. .

RŠ: Do you see any of these cases of kidnapping and organ trafficking resulting in actual sentences? Handed out perhaps by the new war crimes court being set up in Kosovo?

MM: Well again I think it's remarkable that so many years after all this happened with these other courts wrapping up their work, I think it's remarkable that this court got established and that European countries are willing to pay for it. I think it's been pretty clear from what the prosecutors have said is that we're going to see indictments on. We might even see them retry cases that the UN tried to do earlier. We may see familiar faces indicted and I suspect a lot of these cases will be for murders, political murders, abduction, torture that happened in Kosovo and they won't necessarily be connected to organ trafficking. The previous prosecutor Clint Williamson, the American who really got all this going, said at the time they didn't have enough evidence to support indictments for the organ trafficking. He did say they believe that happened on some scale. But at the time they didn't have enough evidence. Now maybe that's changed. Maybe they have new witnesses. I think one issue will be, do they have people willing to testify, because remember that Dick Marty is not a judicial officer. He can put information in his report. And he doesn't necessarily, I mean, these are not people who will be obligated to testify. So he can use a lot more sort of anonymous sources. So I think that what could happen when these indictments are issued and that you know that should be this year. There's been some people talking about next year. I think that the first wave of indictments may not be that surprising, they may be people already who have already gone through trials and have maybe been acquitted. So you know it's a lot of effort to prosecute people for something that happened quite a long time ago at a huge cost. And so I think there's going to be pressure on the prosecutor. There is pressure on the prosecutor's office to develop really strong cases and, at least at the beginning, they may not want to stick their necks out on something like the organ trafficking if they don't feel like they really have it nailed down.

RŠ: Will this new court have jurisdiction to investigate in the territory of Albania where these crimes allegedly took place? We know that this had been an issue in the past and some, including Mr Marty in his report, suggest that it might have to do with Albania’s secret service involvement in the events.

MM: So my understanding in terms of jurisdiction; I mean this is a civil court or rather these people would be prosecuted under Kosovo law. So they have to work accordingly. If these were Kosovo citizens who were taken to Albania and murdered, I believe the court would have jurisdiction in that. I am not quite sure how far that goes but I believe they would now. I don't know the the current situation with Albania's cooperation. I don't have information on that. But in terms of the SHISH, I don't know. I mean we certainly know that both elements of the Albanian Secret Service and the Kosovo or the KLA Secret Service had some knowledge and some involvement. I think it would have been difficult to abduct civilians from Kosovo, take them over the border, hold them in KLA bases or in private houses and eventually take some of them to a makeshift clinic and murder them for their kidneys. I think it would have been hard to do that without some elements of the SHISH knowing about it. But in terms of high level involvement I can't say that I've seen any strong evidence for that.

RŠ: If we accept this thesis that the ICTY and UNMIK turned a blind eye in order to preserve stability, is it not true that they are still doing it to this day? A large part of Kosovo’s political elite would be in trouble if international organizations decided to investigate further, right?

MM: Well we might have the same problem here in the US. I don't know. In an ideal world you would have authorities in Kosovo or Serbia taking on these issues, and to some degree that has happened. Not a lot and we've seen in Serbia that some of these people who have been convicted are later acquitted. We did a whole investigation into a massacre that happened in the village of Čuška near Peć. And we exposed the men who were behind that, Human Rights Watch did as well. They were put on trial in Serbia and then they were acquitted. And there's a lot of unhappiness on the part of the survivors. It doesn't mean that there weren't people in Serbia trying to take this on just as there are in Kosovo. But I agree with you, I think that sometimes this is a strategy to go after the little fish and then try to develop information or evidence to go after the big fish. If they don't have evidence against some of these big players I don't know why it would be helpful to just go after some very low level people. And I do think that there is something to be said about the political structures in Kosovo which are still to some degree connected to clans in a certain kind of tribal structures that if they were successful at taking down some high level figures, presumably because they are guilty for some of this, I think that would actually help Kosovo. But you know it's complicated, the whole rapprochement with Serbia is problematic. Serbia's got people, war criminals who are now out of prison, and are being welcomed by the political elite. I mean it's just a strange world. You're lucky you don't have these kind of problems in Slovenia.

RŠ: Before we finish, is there anything else you’d like to add?

MM: Look, I was based in former Yugoslavia for a long time, I covered the beginning of the whole breakup in Slovenia, when Janez Janša came to the press conference with a pistol on his side, you know. I covered this for many many years and it's honestly strange to me to be thinking that there's going to be another court, another effort at dealing with some of these issues that happened so long ago. I'm not saying it shouldn't happen but I do think that it's a sign of a failure earlier. In other words you know they say 'Justice delayed is justice denied' or you could say 'Justice delayed is really frickin' expensive' because they've had to create a whole little court to deal with issues that could have been tackled by the UN a long time ago or could have been tackled when NATO and the UN deployed. And had they been paying closer attention to what was going on they maybe could have stopped these abductions when they were happening. So there's a huge price to be paid when the stuff is not dealt with when it should be.

facebook twitter rss


Vam je bilo všeč, kar ste prebrali? Če bi radi spodbudili in podprli še več takih vsebin, potem kliknite na


Prikaži Komentarje


ok ampak če se je nekje kradlo, se je drugje kupovalo. logično a ne? če ne bi bilo povpraševanja, ne bi bilo ponudbe. lol.
verjetno niso bili vpleteni samo srbi in albanci v tej zgodbi a ne?
tako kot - niso bili vpleteni v razrast prostitucije v času jugoslovanske vojne in trgovanja z belim blagom samo jugoslovani a ne? da se je prostitucija tako splačala, so poskrbeli verjetno tudi enote UN- ali pač ne?
mislim, dejmo karte na mizo.

mislim če je kaj jasno v letu 2017, je to, da imajo ALbanci zahrbtno podporo Američanov. Dokaj načrtno se vidi to, tako v primeru Kosova kot v primeru Makedonije. Makedonci so res res zakrbljeni, ker Albanci počasi številčno gledano prevladujejo v njihovi državi. Vsi vejo, da lahko tam zelo hitro zavre. Ko sem se lansko leto peljala skozi Makedonijo mi nikakor ni bilo jasno, zakaj koj kurac poslušam po radiu neke ameriške komentarje volitev ali koga za boga. jebemti, Makedonija, kjer se ti lahko zgodi, da na avtocesti model popravlja mal asfalt in 2m prej nabaci en mali znakec, da ga skor nabaciš na haubo skor... Ti siromašni ljudje, ki si ga tok u izi jemljejo, da potem poslušajo neke ameriške umotvorne idiotizme? ne vem. tud vsa ta scena zarad imena - Makedonija ter FYROM (former yugoslavian republic of macedonia) po grško... tud to je kratko malo čudaško in res otročje. kr neki. sam da se drka.

ja mam jaz Makedonijo že par let na oku. tam ima moja babica še zemljo. ne bodo mi tam srale ameriške pičkice k Angelina Jolie.

lansko leto je bilo kar krepko. ne vem cisto dobro kdaj je to bilo. verjetno november 2016. zanimiva zadeva je bila nazaj grede iz BG. mami mi reče: ne it čez Makedonijo. tam je zdej sranje. babi mi reče: ne it čez Makedonijo.
valda koj kurac je to meni, kr neki. AMPAK zajeb. jaz ne najdem prometne ko stojim na meji med srbijo in makedonijo. makedonec mi reče: sori, ne morem te spustit skozi. rečem, pf šališ se. kaj naj pa zdej? ne vem kje mam prometno, mogoče sem jo kje založila vmes.
reče mi carinik: probaj it čez v grčijo čez bolgarijo.
pfff, si mislim, ajde. kupim si mapico ... cijazim se cijazim res dolgo. meja za v bolgarijo se nahaja nekje v pički matrni, hribi, sneg, polna luna, vse zaledenelo. pa si mislim, pa kam jaz to grem?
uletim na carino. tam okol 2 zjutri. sam jaz pa en tovornjakar.
pa cariniku povem, da nimam prometne.
modela skor napiči na čelo. čist živčn rata model. obrit. skor da doživi živčn zlom sred tiste zaledenele polne lune. cel sistem sem mu zjebala sred noči.
jaz mal počakam, da se pomiri. mal čekiram mačkice k jih zebe.
potem model reče: počak mal.
gre notr, preverit v bazo podatkov.
midva s tovornjakarjem se že smejeva. si mislim: koj kurac bo našel v tej bazi podatkov.
čez kar nekaj časa pride ven in reče: lahko greš skozi.
opa bato, si mislim. pa baza podatkov vam pa dela v tej luknji. aj živeli.

več tega


Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Spletni in e-mail naslovi bodo samodejno pretvorjeni v povezavo.
  • Samodejen prelom odstavkov in vrstic.

Z objavo komentarja potrjujete, da se strinjate s pravili komentiranja.