Report: Kosovo PM is head of human organ and arms ring
The prime minister of Kosovo is the capo of a shady underworld organization responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and even human organs across Eastern Europe, according to a European inquiry on organized crime reviewed by The Guardian.
The Council of Europe's report, which the Guardian said cited FBI and other intelligence sources, alleged that henchmen from Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's inner circle smuggled Serbian prisoners into Albania after the Kosovo war in the late 1990s and murdered them for their organs, which were then sold on the black market.
The report also alleged that Thaci controls much of the heroin trade in the region and has been involved with other "illicit criminal enterprises" for more than a decade, The Guardian reported.
Thaci is a former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), an ethic Albanian guerrilla force that fought against Serbian forces and troops loyal to Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav leader, in 1998 and 1999.
He became prime minister in 2008, shortly before Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, and he again claimed victory in elections held in the country on Sunday.
Serbia accused him of committing war crimes during the conflict, and the U.S. State Department once classified the KLA as a terrorist organization that financed its activities through the drug trade. (The organization was taken off the list in 1998.)
Dick Marty, the Swiss politician and investigator behind the inquiry, backed up some of those charges in the report.
"In confidential reports spanning more than a decade, agencies dedicated to combating drug smuggling in at least five countries have named Hashim Thaçi and other members of his Drenica group as having exerted violent control over the trade in heroin and other narcotics," the report said, referring to Thaci's inner circle.
The report also said that the KLA held Serb captives in a network of six secret prisons in Albania, south of the Kosovo border, and in some cases, the prisoners were killed for their kidneys, according to The Guardian.
"As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the 'safe house' individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic," the report said, according to the paper.
The report is also apparently critical of western leaders who provided aid to Kosovo during its independence and failed to prosecute Thaci and other alleged henchmen.
The Kosovan government fiercely denied the allegations in the report, claiming they were "despicable and bizarre actions by people with no moral credibility."
"The allegations have been investigated several times by local and international judiciary, and in each case, it was concluded that such statements have were not based on facts and were construed to damage the image of Kosovo and the war of the Kosovo Liberation Army," the Kosovan government said in a statement.
Marty will present his report to members of the European Council at a meeting in Paris on Thursday.