Is Justice Going To Be Served:Grisly Albanian Organ Harvesting Crimes
Is Justice Going To Be Served:Grisly Albanian Organ Harvesting Crimes
Vojin Joksimovich, Ph.D
Modern Tokyo Times
In my late December essay in 2010 called Amorality of US Kosovo Policy: Friends with the Snake I have published reactions to the Council of Europe (CoE) 27-page report authored by the Swiss-Italian politician, senator and prosecuting lawyer Dick Marty. The report, after his two-year investigation, claimed that the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) thugs headed by the current Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaci, known as the “Snake,” abducted mostly Kosovo Serbs but also some Albanian so called “collaborators,” transported them to northern Albania, murdered them, extracted their organs like the kidneys, and sold them on the black market. These macabre Nazi/Croatian Nazi style crimes were covered up by the leading international organizations such as the UN, NATO, OSCE as well as the governments of leading western countries. NATO’s secret documents as well as an UN report have been leaked out clearly demonstrating that both of those international organizations had full knowledge of these grisly crimes and opted to cover them up in addition to several western governments, the U.S. and Germany in particular. While a EULEX investigation is being launched, it will focus on the grisly crimes committed by the Snake and his thugs but will not include an investigation of those who enabled these crimes to be covered up for over a decade. In addition, it is doubtful if EULEX is capable of conducting an all-encompassing inquiry. Hence, the most important question needs to be posed: Is the justice going to be served.
CoE Session: 169:8 Votes
On January 25, the CoE supported Dick Marty’s resolution demanding investigation into organ harvesting macabre crimes with a vote of 169:8. The resolution calls for EULEX to continue its investigation. It also calls for the governments of Serbia, Albania and Kosovo institutions to fully cooperate. Amendments proposed by the Albanian deputies were overwhelmingly rejected, while two amendments proposed by Marti were accepted. His first amendment seeks clarification dealing with EULEX competencies, or some other judicial body with mandate to conduct investigations, with regard to territorial and timeline aspects of all crimes committed in Kosovo. The second amendment specifies what is expected from the Albanian authorities and the Kosovo institutions. On his part Marty committed to submit all the evidence he accumulated providing the witness protection is guaranteed. He indicated that he found credible witness, who have nothing to do with Serbia, but who are afraid of the Kosovo judiciary, and added that the witness protection is scandalous.
Serbian president Tadic addressed the CoE session demanded an investigation and pointed out that there is no institution with a mandate to carry out an investigation of this kind and that such an institution should be immediately created. Sweeping the gruesome crimes under the carpet is not an option.
Dick Marty felt that EULEX is powerless to investigate these grisly crimes. “An ad-hoc judicial structure needs to be created—established specially to investigate the organ trafficking and located outside of Kosovo, which would have the right to apply measures to protect witnesses and their families—just during the process but afterwards as well. The witnesses have so much to say that their lives would not be worth much afterwards if their identities were revealed.” On March 10, Marty is scheduled to appear before the European Parliament (EP) Foreign Affairs Committee.
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Amnesty International (AI) are the only two western-oriented international human rights organizations operating worldwide. They play the complementary roles with the HRW main products being crisis-directed research and lengthy reports. Their European director Benjamin Ward gave an interview to Radio Free Europe. In it they advocated for the EU to appoint a highly specialized prosecutor with the investigation taking place outside the Balkans in order to protect the witnesses. The HRW doesn’t believe that EULEX is capable of conducting a proper investigation given their track record including the fact that the organ harvesting was known for a long time. Hence, the HRW and Dick Marty are in full agreement that EULEX is not the organization to conduct an investigation
Despite these warnings from Marty and the HRW, the EU has asked the EULEX to conduct the investigation, has asked Marty to provide his evidence and is negotiating ways to protect the witnesses. EULEX has about 20 investigators and 40 judges and the EU is ready to send more. The EULEX prosecutors have already initiated a preliminary investigation and can start immediately if they receive the evidence collected by Marty.
NATO’s Secret Documents
The CoE report is further supported by NATO’s secret documents tagged “USA-KFOR,” which were leaked to the British The Guardian and published the day the CoE debated the Marti report. According to the papers, the Snake has been identified as one of the “biggest fish” of organized crime in Kosovo. He was the head of a “mafia-like” network responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs during and after the 1998-99 Kosovo war. Xhavit Halili, member of the Drenica gang, former KLA logistics head and a high level official in Thaci’s party is identified for the same crimes as Thaci. Halili, described as “the power behind Hashim Thaci,” and Thaci’s chief “political and financial adviser,” carries a Czech 9mm pistol. He is also implicated in two murders in Albania including that of the young Tirana journalist Ali Uke, who shared an apartment with Thaci.
It has become more than obvious that that the 2008 irresponsible push to recognize Kosovo’s independence came against a background of full awareness of Snake’s and his thugs criminal track records. Nonetheless, the western powers preferred to turn a blind eye to Kosovo reality and what was originating from Kosovo.
UN 2003 Investigation
In this era of WikiLeaks the UN report dated October 30, 2003 was leaked. France 24 TV channel was one of several media outlets to reveal the content of this confidential report. Even this author managed to get a copy of this 29 page report. The report originated from Eamonn Smyth, Head of ICTY Mission in Skopje and Pristina to Patrick Lopez Terres, Chief of the ICTY Investigations. The report says that 100-300 mostly Serbian men were abducted and taken by truck/van to detention facilities in Albanian towns of Kukes and Tropoje. Beginning in August 1999 some of these captives (24-100) was transferred from Northern Albania to secondary detention facilities (private homes and rough industrial compounds) in central Albania, mainly near the towns of Burrel and Peshkopi. Then they were moved to a private house south of Burrel that was setup as a makeshift clinic. There, medical equipment and personnel were used to extract body organs from the abductees, who then died. Their remains were buried nearby. The organs were transported to Rinas airport near Tirana. It should be noted that the airport was under the NATO control. A small number of female captives from Kosovo, Albania and Eastern Europe were also taken to the clinic. In addition to abductees taken to Albania alive, an unknown number of bodies of Serbian civilians killed in Kosovo were transported to Albania and buried in remote locations. The last delivery of captives was reported in spring or early summer 2000.
The report identifies at least eight sources, all ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and Montenegro who served in the KLA. In the report they were listed with numbers as their identities were withheld. Four, who have directly participated in the transport of at least 90 Serbs, provided very detailed accounts of their roles including the exact dates. Of these, three sources delivered captives to the house/clinic south of Burrel. Two have participated in the disposal of human remains and one who has participated in the delivery of body parts to Rinas airport. The transports and surgical procedures were carried out with the knowledge and/or active involvement of mid-level and senior KLA officers. Doctors from Kosovo as well as an Arab doctor were involved. The operation was supported by the men with links to the Albanian secret police operatives of the government of Sali Berisha. Maps of the site locations were included. 10 Serbian victims were identified by name.
In an interview with France 24, Dick Marty claimed that he was unaware of the document but the events described were known to him. The French TV asserted that the UNMIK report was never forwarded to EULEX and reminded the viewers that while these grisly crimes were taking place tens of thousands of NATO soldiers, UNMIK and OSCE personnel were charged with responsibility to protect the civilians.
UN Security Council Session
A Kosovo session of the UN Security Council (UNSC) took place on February 16. The UNMIK chief Lamberto Zanier submitted his quarterly report in which he described Kosovo as politically unstable and insecure. He requested that a Marty report all-encompassing investigation should be given due priority. In addition he expressed hope that the Kosovo government, now in the making, will consist of people with “clean hands.” The Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic requested a UN inquiry. Jeremic described Marty’s report as “deeply disturbing” and suggested the EULEX investigation is not enough because the allegations involved locations outside Europe such as Asia and Africa. “The solution lies in establishing an ad hoc investigating mechanism created by—and accountable to—the Security Council.”
However, the U.S. envoy Rosemary Di Carlo asserted that the EULEX investigation was sufficient. “We do not believe that an ad hoc UN mechanism is necessary or appropriate,” She was supported by the UK and German representatives, while Jeremic received support from Russia, China, South Africa and Gabon. The U.S. seems to be against an ad-hoc court in order to avoid an equalization of the Kosovo Albanian crimes with those committed by the Serbs and dealt with by the ICTY.
Impact in Kosovo
The Marty report has degraded Thaci’s credibility as well as Kosovo’s international reputation. Thaci has never been so weak politically. He has been weakened also by his row with Fatmir Limaj, the outgoing minister of transport. Timing of leaked NATO and UN documents could be interpreted as an attempt by Thaci’s former sponsors to tell him that his time is up and that he should withdraw from the political scene. Thaci was experiencing difficulty forming a new coalition government after the December 12 elections marred with irregularities. His party won 34 seats in the new 120-member parliament. Other big parties, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) with 27 seats and the Self-Determination with 14, indicated that they want Thaci out of any future coalition government even if his party (DPK) stays. Hence, Thaci had to rely on small parties to secure the majority. At the same time some western ambassadors suggested that the new government should not include those subjected to the criminal probe. Thaci has been forced to drop his loyalist Jakup Krasniqi, the acting Kosovo president who empowered him with a mandate to form a new government, in favor of Behgjet Isa Pacolli, the world’s richest Albanian who made his fortune in Switzerland. In exchange Pacolli’s party, the New Kosovo Alliance (AKR), will enter into Thaci’s coalition. Thaci has also offered a position of the Kosovo government VP (one out of four) to the leader of the Serbian Independent Liberal Party Slobodan Petrovic including the three ministries (the same as the AKR). In addition, other minorities—the Turks, Ashkali, Egyptians—will be represented in Thaci’s government with two ministries. Hence, it appears that Thaci has been successful in forming the new government. It remains to be seen if Pacolli will get enough votes for the presidency.
Who is Pacolli?
The world richest Albanian, second of a family of 10 children, left Kosovo penniless for Germany at the age of 17. After the military service, he joined an Austrian company, but two years later moved to Switzerland joining a Swiss company he got to know in Moscow. In 1990 he founded Mabetex Project Management, a construction company based in Lugano. This company evolved into a large business group called the Mabetex Group, which handled many international construction jobs in Russia, Kazakhstan, Italy and Uzbekistan. Pacolli remains the President and CEO.
Offices of Mabetex Group were searched in 1999 at Russia’s request and he was questioned by then Swiss State Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte. The Swiss authorities charged him in June 2000 with money laundering and providing bribes worth $4 million. The proceedings in Russia were closed in December 2000 and in Switzerland in March 2002. It was a corruption scandal close to then Russian President Yeltsin and several officials suspected of accepting bribes in exchange for the Kremlin reconstruction job.
Pacolli has been actively lobbying for Kosovo’s independence since 2004/2005. In 2006 he founded the New Kosovo Alliance (AKR); in 2007 his party came third in the parliamentary elections. It has been reported by the Finnish media that former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, who was appointed by the UN as special envoy for Kosovo, was bribed by the Albanian mafia (some speculated that Pacolli was involved). Ahtisaari delivered the Kosovo Independence recommendation and was even awarded the Nobel Peace Price for 2008. When Carla Del Ponte published her book, Pacolli initiated a legal procedure against her book—requesting a ban on the book being sold and distributed.
Since Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, Pacolli has been lobbying many countries to recognize Kosovo. The Maldives Parliament launched an investigation on the basis of suspicion that its government officials were involved in taking bribe of $2 million for the recognition of Kosovo. According to the Maldivian media, the government officials received the bribe from Pacolli. The Maldives became the 55th of the 192 members to recognize Kosovo.
Pacolli might be an angel in comparison to Thaci. However, he is obviously not reluctant to use his wealth to bribe officials in order to advance his and Albanian causes. As such he is likely to be acceptable in the West, but unlikely in Moscow. Despite his Russian wife, he has lobbied for the Nabucco gas pipeline and Iran-Turkey-Greece-Albania-Kosovo pipeline which is contrary to the Russian interests in the Balkans.
Berisha in Trouble Again
In addition to Thaci’s problems in Kosovo, the Berisha regime in Albania is in trouble again. Mass demonstrations broke in Tirana after it was revealed that Berisha’s Deputy Prime Minister “in secretly taped talks, openly negotiating the level of bribes to back the construction of a new hydroelectric power station.” Police reacted with violence killing three people with some 150 injured. The opposition, Socialists party, is demanding early elections over corruption and vote rigging in 2009 general election. Berisha’s services for supporting the Washington agenda in the Balkans were awarded with Albania’s membership in NATO. The Albanian opposition continues to hold anti-government protests ignoring the international pressure for a compromise.
It should be recalled that the BBC reported on March 23, 1992 that Berisha, who then became the president of Albania, said: “There is no Albania without Kosovo and vice versa.” He was re-elected in 1997 but had to resign because of the collapse of a fraudulent Ponzi type of scheme, which led to anarchy and killings necessitating the Italian troops to intervene with the UN approval. He has openly supported the Kosovo Albanian drive for independence with the ultimate aim to create a Greater Albania. His rule also led to freedom of movement for mafia operations. He gave his family farm to the KLA for military training purposes thus enabling the KLA to wage a war of insurrection into Kosovo. He maintained close links with Thaci and must have known about the organ harvesting scandal and may have even actively participated in it. Most of the KLA crimes took place in Albania, but Berisha has refused to cooperate in the prior investigations.
Albania has long been known as a hot spot in the illicit trade of human organs. A 2004 report written by the Greek Embassy in Tirana detailed the illegal Albanian organ trading operating since 1994. The report says that children were snatched from their families in various parts of Albania, or sold, in many cases for the price of a TV set. The victims were taken to clinics in Albania or to a clinic in Yiannitsa in Central Greece, while their organs were smuggled out of Albania and Greece and sold in Italy and France.
The Swiss media has been reporting on the KLA activities in Switzerland. Geneva’s Le Temp revealed that the Snake lived in Switzerland 1994-1998. He had a political asylum status but travelled to Kosovo 5-6 times per year in violation of the Swiss law. The paper identified five other KLA members who were collecting the contributions from the Albanian diaspora and money laundering.
A Zurich paper focused on Haliti and his symbiotic relationship with Thaci in an article titled “The most dangerous Kosovo man with Swiss past.” Haliti came to Switzerland in 1986 and was linked with money laundering and trading with weapons, drugs and women. He was in business with a company controlled by jihadists.
The media predicts that the foreign affairs committees will address the Swiss Kosovo policies. The Swiss parliament adopted the resolution calling for a neutral international court to investigate corruption in Kosovo as well as the EULEX.
EULEX Investigation to follow ICTY footsteps?
Arguments have been made, by both Marty and the HRW, as well as the Serbian foreign minister Jeremic, why EULEX cannot deliver justice. Nonetheless, the U.S./EU have opted for EULEX. What is left is for the UNSC is to attempt to find a way to constraint the U.S./EU from writing rules aimed at justifying flawed U.S./NATO Balkan policies rather than serving justice. In other words the experience of a political court of dubious legality such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) should not be allowed to be replicated. ICTY destroyed the evidence collected in 2003. Four critical books have been written on the subject of the ICTY: Diana Johnstone’s Fools Crusade (2002); Michael Mandel’s How America Gets Away with Murder (2004); Peter Brock’s Media Cleansing (2005); and John Laughland’s Travesty: The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic and the Corruption of Justice (2007). Laughland focuses on “The Corruption of International Justice.” He stresses that the ICTY is a political court with explicit political objectives that run counter to the requirements of justice.
Should UN/NATO be investigated?
As discussed above both the UN and NATO were fully aware of the role the Snake and his thugs had played in these macabre crimes but chose to cover it up. Therefore a true investigation should include those organizations as well. However, it is extremely unlikely that this would take place as these organizations enjoy the status of impunity. Michael Mandel, professor of law at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, in 1999 led an international effort to have NATO prosecuted for crimes against humanity committed during the Kosovo war. While meticulously documented his case didn’t get anywhere.
On the other hand, it should be of interest to at least to two countries, i.e. the U.S. and Germany, which played a pivotal part in selecting the KLA and its leaders with known criminal records as partners in order to amputate Serbia. In England, a parliamentary committee is investigating why Great Britain went to war in Iraq. Tony Blair testified twice before the committee. There will be no indictments but the British public will find out why their prime minister opted for the war ignoring the will of the public. A similar type of investigation should be at least conducted by the U.S. Congress with a broad objective of establishing how the U.S. ended up with the war in Kosovo… As a part of that type of an investigation issues such as partnership with Hashim Thaci and his thugs as opposed to supporting pacifist Ibrahim Rugova should be addressed. An important part of such an investigation would be macabre organ harvesting case with the associated cover-ups, which have further eroded the U.S. credibility in the world.
“The Culture of Impunity, NATO Style”
Diana Johnstone wrote a piece with the above quoted title. She expressed an opinion that “the Marty report appears fated to join the Goldstone Report on Gaza in the limbo of good intentions” and pointed out to the London Review of Books (LRB), which chose to publish a five-page review of the Marty Report by no other than Sir Geoffrey Nice. His rise to fame was prosecution of Slobodan Milosevic at the ICTY. He blamed Milosevic for all Former Yugoslavia ills and “succeeded in sending Milosevic to his grave before he could present his defense, thus sparing the three judges the task of finding excuses to convict him, as they were hired to do.” Dennis MacShane, a former Labor Minister for Europe, followed up with an attack dog type article published in the Independent and the Wall Street Journal. He was suspended from the Labor Party pending investigation into his expense account padding amounting to 125,000 pounds.
Nice compared Thaci with Djukanovic in Montenegro, who has decided to step down and cease to hold a political office in order to facilitate Montenegro’s entry into the EU. Djukanovic is famous for his grand-scale cigarette smuggling empire, which led to indictment in Italy. Johnstone read Nice’s comparison “as acknowledgement that both NATO protégés are crooks to some degree or other, who were useful in wresting their lands away from the Serbs, but now had best step back to make way for more presentable puppets. Being prosecuted for those wrongdoings, whatever they may be is, however, out of the question.”
Johnstone ends on the following note: “Human rights campaigners in the self-righteous Western democracies are intransigent when it comes to ending what they call ‘the culture of impunity’ so long as it involves, say, Africa. But their own impunity and that of their clients seems more secure than ever.”
*Vojin Joksimovich has authored three books about the Balkans and some 80 articles/blogs
The Revenge Of The Prophet written by Dr. Vojin Joksimovich