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Europe

Kosovo under pressure as Europe's watchdog backs organ trafficking report

The Council of Europe has thrown its weight behind a report accusing the leadership of the Balkan nation Kosovo, including its prime minister, of complicity in organ and drug trafficking.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci

Thaci has denied all of the allegations

Kosovo's leadership found itself under pressure on Tuesday after the Council of Europe formally endorsed a report accusing senior members of the tiny Balkan nation's government of complicity in organ trafficking

The 27-page report, compiled last year by the body's special rapporteur, Dick Marty, implicated incumbent Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and other former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in charges that also included drug trafficking during and after the Kosovo War in the late 1990s.

Thaci is a former commander with the KLA, the guerrilla organization that fought Serbian control of the predominantly ethnic Albanian territory.

After voting overwhelmingly in support of the Marty report, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly demanded that the governments of Kosovo and Albania "initiate a serious and independent investigation" of the allegations.

'Organs extracted from prisoners'

The Marty report argued that Thaci was a mafia-style boss who helped set up and run drug and organ trafficking networks. It also linked former KLA leaders with organized crime groups in Kosovo and in neighboring Albania, and said they were implicit in assassinations, abductions and beatings.

The report accused the crime groups of killing Serb prisoners held in special detention camps in Albania, where their organs were allegedly removed for sale on the black market. It called on the European Union's justice mission in Kosovo (EULEX) to investigate the claims.

The Council's parliamentary assembly also called for a probe into the existence of the secret detention centers "and inhuman treatment."

Thaci has hit back in several interviews denying the allegations and vowing to sue Marty for libel.

Author: Darren Mara (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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