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Wartime Kosovo organ trafficking probe to end in 2014

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

An international probe into allegations of organ trafficking by Kosovo Albanian rebels in the 1990s will end in 2014, the US prosecutor leading the investigation said Thursday.

"We have interrogated more than 100 witnesses so far and we expect that this probe (will) be finished next year," prosecutor Clint Williamson was quoted as saying in a statement from the Serbian government following his meeting with Serb Prime Minister Ivica Dacic.

Dacic reiterated Belgrade's support for the EU-led investigation.

"We are determined to continue cooperation and intensify activities aimed at bringing to justice all those who had taken part into these monstruous crimes," Dacic said.

Williamson and his team have been investigating allegations that ethnic Albanian rebels in Kosovo removed organs from up to 500 live prisoners of war and sold them on the black market.

These events took place in the chaos following the end of the Kosovo war in June 1999.

In a 2010 report, Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty alleged that senior Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commanders -- including Kosovo's current prime minister, Hashim Thaci -- were involved.

The report said organs were taken from the predominantly Serb prisoners held by the KLA in Albania, who were then later killed.

Thaci and his government have denied the accusations and condemned Marty's report.

In October Serbia's war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic told AFP that Belgrade had a witness who had taken part in the organ harvesting.

The case is also believed to be linked to the so-called Medicus affair, another case of organ trafficking at a hospital in Kosovo's capital of Pristina.

Seven people, mostly doctors, are on trial before an EU-run court in Kosovo on charges of illegally transplanting organs at the Medicus clinic.

At least 30 illegal kidney removals and transplants were allegedly carried out in 2008 using donors recruited from poor Eastern European and Central Asian countries.

In his report, Marty said there were "credible, convergent indications" that the wartime organ trafficking was "closely related" to the Medicus case.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130425/wartime-kosovo-organ-trafficking-probe-end-2014