December 20th 2010 01:44:34 PM
Continuing with this story.
It looks like crying “Serbian Propaganda! ™” can fool people for only 12 years. Or so one hopes. This has yet to play out, and the rapporteur Dick Marty is handing the evidence-collection and prosecution over to the EU “justice” mission in Kosovo. So we know what that usually means for the welfare of evidence (or else for the welfare of those collecting it).
The follow-ups to the breaking Albanian organ-trafficking story have continued all week since the EU Council released its report on Tuesday.
…EU prosecutor Jonathan Ratel told the court the organs had been illegally removed from victims and transplanted into wealthy recipients in the clinic, known as Medicus. Those who paid up to €90,000 (£76,400) for the black-market kidneys included patients from Canada, Germany, Poland and Israel, Ratel said.
The story would be shocking enough if it ended there. But what the court did not hear is that the Medicus clinic has been linked in a Council of Europe report to a wider network of Albanian organised criminals. They are said to have had close links to senior officials in Kosovo’s government, including the prime minister, Hashim Thaçi. Their supposed links to the underground organ market allegedly go back more than a decade when, in its most gruesome incarnation, the operation is said to have involved removing kidneys from murder victims.…
The claims initially surfaced two years ago, when the former chief war crimes prosecutor at The Hague, Carla Del Ponte, said she had been prevented from properly investigating alleged atrocities committed by the KLA. Marty’s report suggests the KLA held Serbs and other captives in secret detention centres in Albania for almost a year after the war ended…
…Kosovo’s guerrilla army formed “a formidable power base in the organised criminal enterprises” in Kosovo and Albania. A group known as Drenica, led by Thaçi, became the KLA’s dominant faction and senior KLA figures from the group hold senior positions in Kosovo’s government today.
In 1999, Thaçi was identified as the most dangerous of the KLA’s “criminal bosses” by intelligence reports, according to Marty…A KLA medical commander based in Albania, Shaip Muja remains a close confidante of Thaçi’s, and is currently a political adviser in the office of the prime minister, with responsibility for health. “We have uncovered numerous convergent indications of Muja’s central role [in] international networks, comprising human traffickers, brokers of illicit surgical procedures, and other perpetrators of organised crime,” the report states.
Among the makeshift prisons where captives were held, Marty identifies the famed Yellow House, near the town of Burrel. When the Guardian visited the property two years ago, the owners – the Katuci family – became hostile and denied wrongdoing. While the report concludes the Katuci family home was not the site of organ harvesting, it states that captive Serbs were taken there after the Katucis moved out and the KLA took over the property. The Yellow House and other ad hoc jails function as way stations in which KLA operatives selected candidates for organ removal, Marty says.
After medical checks and blood tests, he says a “handful” were moved to a farmhouse in Fushë-Krujë, a town north of the Albanian capital, Tirana. According to the report, some of these prisoners became aware of the fate that awaited them, and are said to have pleaded not to be “chopped into pieces”. The report adds: “The testimonies on which we based our findings spoke credibly and consistently of a methodology by which all of the captives were killed, usually by a gunshot to the head, before being operated on to remove one or more of their organs.”
The Guardian has established that organs are believed to have been shipped to Istanbul, in a criminal racket operated by Yusuf Sonmez, the same Turkish doctor wanted by Interpol for his alleged involvement in the Medicus clinic.
[T]he removal of organs from prisoners in Albania a decade ago is “closely related to the contemporary case of the Medicus clinic”. In making the link, Marty refers to prominent “Kosovan Albanian and international figures” who figure as “co-conspirators” in both organ rackets. Their names have been omitted from the report “out of respect” to the Kosovo judicial process.
However, senior Kosovo government sources have told the Guardian those figures are almost certainly Shaip Muja and Yusuf Sonmez. They are the two names mentioned independently by a Washington-based intelligence source who has monitored criminal networks involving KLA figures since 1999. The source described the pair as “the common thread” tying Medicus to KLA activities in 1999 and 2000.
“It is Muja who got into business with Yusuf Sonmez on his trips to Turkey around the time of the Kosovo war, which resulted in kidneys being secreted out of Albania to Istanbul,” the source said. “It’s no coincidence that he also played a role in the creation of Medicus, less than a decade later.” […]
And just some important parts of other incoming reports on the affair:
…The report by Swiss senator Dick Marty…is expected to be adopted by the Committee on Legal Affairs of the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly and it urges Kosovo’s EU-run judiciary in Kosovo to probe the charges.
Watch the EU-run judiciary start dropping dead one by one.
Kosovo Albanians believe such information about events from the late 1990s war years was fabricated by Serbia to smear their KLA liberators…
Of course they do. Because clearly Albanians have never met an Albanian before and therefore don’t know how they operate. (No pun intended!)
Marty says in the report that almost 500 people disappeared in Kosovo after NATO troops arrived. About 100 were Albanians and close to 400 non-Albanians, most of them Serbs.
Evidence suggested, Marty added, that the organizers used safe locations in Kukes on the Kosovo border, Rripe in the Mat region further south, and at Fushe-Kruje near the international airport. The location in Fushe-Kruje was specially built.
“It constituted a state-of-the-art reception center for the organized crime of organ trafficking. It was styled as a makeshift operating clinic….
Age, sex, state of health and ethnicity, with mostly Serbs targeted, determined the selection.
Albania has denied it knew or condoned such activity and has considered the matter closed, saying the claims proved untrue…
When investigations are obstructed and therefore don’t take place, that means “proved untrue” in Albanian.
…Claims the KLA had engaged in organ trafficking emerged in April 2008 in the memoirs of the ex-chief war crimes prosecutor at The Hague, Carla Del Ponte, who said she had been prevented from properly investigating alleged atrocities by the KLA.
Xhavit Haliti, a senior official of Thaci’s PDK party mentioned in the report as one KLA commander active in Albania, said he believed Marty’s report was politically motivated, but welcomed an investigation to shed light on the matter.
“Smuggling organs is a very serious accusation, which I think should be verified. I believe it is impossible to imagine that the KLA had a mechanism (for involvement in) it. It is impossible. Professionally it was impossible,” Xhaviti said.
…Thaci, [Marty] said, was “the boss” of the Drenica Group, a “small but inestimably powerful group of KLA personalities” who took control of organised crime in the region from at least 1998.
The diplomatic and political support the United States and other western powers gave him during the talks following the Kosovo conflict “bestowed upon Thaci, not least in his own mind, a sense of being ‘untouchable’,” he added.
Thaci also operated with the help not just of the Albanian government “but also from Albania?s secret services, and from the formidable Albanian mafia,” wrote Marty.
Thaci’s ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), which won the most votes in Sunday’s general elections, denounced Marty’s allegations as “fabrications” in a statement Tuesday.
The report’s “goal was to disgrace KLA and its leaders,” it added.
“It is based on groundless facts which are invented with a goal to harm Kosovo’s image,” it added.
It would “take all possible and necessary steps in order to confront Marty’s fabrications, including legal and lawful ones,” it warned. [But not excluding illegal and unlawful ones, of course.] […]
…In a bombshell report Hashim Thaci was described as ‘the most dangerous’ of organised crime leaders who engaged in assassinations, beatings, drug smuggling and a weapons racket.
The claims about the country’s premier come as a slap in the face to those who supported Britain’s efforts to free Kosovo and help its rebel leaders to power. [Harder! Harder!]
…Damningly, the report accuses Western governments of complicity, saying European leaders knew about, but chose to ignore, Thaci’s alleged brutality. [NOTE: Playing as big a role as “choosing to ignore” was being constantly, constantly strong-armed by the U.S., which knew everything the Europeans knew.]
Thaci was nicknamed ‘The Snake’ when he was a guerrilla leader in the Kosovo Liberation Army, which fought the Serbs.
After Mr Blair helped to push the Serbs from Kosovo in 1999 under aerial bombardment, Thaci rose to power. Only last Sunday, he was re-elected as prime minister.
All smiles: Tony Blair meets Thaci in 1999 when he was the leader of the KLA and according to [Tuesday’s] report, when the organ-ring had just started. The pair posed for photos in a bar near where the European Union summit was being held in Cologne, Germany
…Some victims were allowed to live, minus their robbed organs.
The sinister portrait of Thaci painted by the report bears little resemblance to the man who greeted Mr Blair as an old friend when Britain’s former prime minister was honoured during a visit to Pristina in July.
…Thaci described Mr Marty’s report as baseless and defamatory.
‘The government of Kosovo and Hashim Thaci will undertake all the necessary steps to dismiss the slanders of Dick Marty, including legal and political means,’ a statement said.
More reports started coming in with reactions from Kosovo. From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:
…In its first reaction, Kosovo’s government dismissed the report as “slanderous,” threatened “all legal and political actions and measures” against Marty, and urged members of the Council of Europe to reject the report.
The statement said the report aimed to “shame” Thaci after the December 12 parliamentary elections — Kosovo’s first since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008 — in which his party won the most votes.
Speaking at the same press conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that, if confirmed, the allegations enclosed in Marty’s report would “constitute a crime against humanity” and urged that this report “not remain a closed document.”
In Belgrade, where Thaci was sentenced in absentia as a terrorist in 1997, a spokesman for the war crimes prosecutor’s office, Bruno Vekaric, said Marty’s report was a “victory” for Serbia.
Marty said his findings were based on testimonies of “KLA insider sources” such as drivers, bodyguards involved in logistical and practical tasks, as well as “organizers” or the ringleaders behind the organ trade.
Marty also cited confidential reports over more than a decade saying that Thaci and others in his group had control over drug trafficking.
Marty said Thaci was “the boss” of the Drenica Group within the KLA, a “small but inestimably powerful group of KLA personalities” who took control of organized crime in the region from at least 1998.
Marty said the diplomatic and political support Western powers gave Thaci during the talks following the Kosovo conflict “bestowed upon Thaci, not least in his own mind, a sense of being ‘untouchable.’”
Marty wrote that Thaci also operated with the help of the Albanian government, secret services, and mafia.
If adopted, the report will go before the Parliamentary Assembly, of which Marty is a member, on January 25. […]
Kosovo’s government has rejected accusations prime minister Hashim Thaci once headed a criminal network that trafficked in human organs.
The Council of Europe says Mr Thaci and other military leaders took kidneys from Serb prisoners in the late 1990s.
The report also accuses Mr Thaci of involvement in political assassinations and controlling the heroin trade after the conflict with Serbia in 1999.
But government spokesman Memli Krasniqi says the accusations have been brought by those who want to bring Kosovo down.
“This is absolutely ridiculous, this is absolutely untrue and this doesn’t make any sense to anyone that has ever been in Kosovo,” he said. [Been in Kosovo on guided tours paid for by the Pristina government, such as those that virtually every U.S. lawmaker has been on — or hosted by the U.S. military at Camp Bondsteel there, such as these two dingbats from the American Legion.]
“This is Serbian propaganda at its best.”
Anti-narcotics agencies from five different countries confirming all this, and — you guessed it: Serbian propaganda!
The report by Dick Marty, rapporteur for the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly committee on legal affairs and human rights, also accused Western powers of complicity in ignoring crimes dating back to the late 1990s for the sake of preserving regional stability.
READ: “U.S. ignoring crimes dating back to the late 1990s for the sake of preserving regional stability.” What? Seriously? But we’re the United States of America. We stand for all good things. That can only mean that organ theft and murder-for-organs must be a good thing, no?
…The news shocked and dismayed Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians.
“I am confused, angry, annoyed and disappointed,” said Vedat Gashi, an ethnic Albanian.
Another said he found the report “hard to believe.”
“But anything could happen,” said Naser Leci. “I hope it isn’t true as it would be bad for everyone.”
Particularly for the people who had their organs removed. But yes, the moral of the story for Albanians is that it’s bad for their image. It’ll make getting more international recognitions harder. What? Switzerland is already regretting its blessing? After being one of the firstest to the finish line in recognizing it, Swiss politicians are calling for a retraction? And by the way, the Swiss media say, did you know “that all heroin smuggling groups so far discovered in Switzerland are Albanian or ‘citizens of Kosovo’ — though that didn’t bother us until about a minute ago.” And — what’s this — Swiss foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has canceled Tuesday’s award ceremony by the Kosovo Diaspora and embassy “for her contribution to Kosovo’s independence”?? Weren’t the Swiss the ones who banned promotion of Carla Del Ponte’s book for “impermissible statements by a representative of the government of Switzerland”? And yet now — now that their complicity has been made public — NOW we get Geneva papers “taking Switzerland to task,” accusing it of
following and even encouraging the trend of quasi-absolving crimes committed by the Albanians – and that despite the work of its countryman Marty as well as war crimes prosecutor in the Hague, Switzerland’s own Carla Del Ponte. “How blind! How could such a careful country that insists on human rights be so partisan,” asked Le Temps… “Marty is right regarding one accusation – that the goal of political stability in Kosovo was given priority over the basic principles of justice,” wrote the Zurich-based Neue Zürcher Zeitung on Friday.
Ahem, ahem. Why, two years ago when Del Ponte was shut down, didn’t these so-called newspapers have any interest in looking into the material that was being shut down? ONLY NOW they come out with great indignation!
Be careful now, Switzerland, you have 200,000 of them and believe me you don’t want to get on the wrong side of this flag and learn why it’s an ominous symbol for so many:
Albanian flag: darkness over spilled blood
Especially since Albanians in Switzerland are already “a little bit annoyed” by this whole affair: “Hilmi Gashi, a member of Switzerland’s 200,000 strong Kosovan diaspora…said the Kosovo community was ‘a little bit annoyed’ about the report, especially coming shortly after a survey showing the unpopularity of Albanians in Switzerland and the vote on deporting foreign criminals.”
Concluding now the excerpt from “EU Police Seek ‘Facts’”:
[Kosovo] Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi said the allegations were “monstrous and not true” and blamed Marty of having “his own agenda…to damage” Kosovo.
Rexhepi said Marty was trying to weaken Kosovo before it meets for negotiations with Serbia…The United States and the European Union have pushed for Serbia to hold talks with Kosovo.
But Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic cast doubt on prospects of holding talks with Thaci. […]
2009: Kosovo was Biden’s first stop on his Balkan tour.
“Now if I had a head of hair like THAT!”
“Aw c’mon, Joe! Hey, I can get you a transplant!”
“Of a head?”
Popular boy’s name in Albania and Kosovo today: “Tonibler”
Meanwhile, I’ve always thought Thaci got better-looking with age. Drinking Slavic blood must be good for you.
“Hashim, tell me you didn’t just kill someone else this week.”
“Don’t worry, Madame Secretary. I name my daughter for you.”
(Children in Kosovo and Albania are indeed named Hillary, Bill, Wesley, George, Madeleine, Joe and Eliot, though I don’t think we’ve gotten any Albanian Condoleezzas yet. Racists.)
“Say, if you come across a nice piece of ass while you’re chopping, send me that organ.”
Sec. of Defense Robert Gates
There’s one persistent Serbian rumor that has not, as yet, proved true — even as so many others do. And that rumor is that Thaci was the designated boy toy of Madeleine Albright when she was in the neighborhood doing his bidding. So maybe that’s why they call Thaci “the Snake.” Or maybe he was just trying to get to her kidney.
“Forget multi-ethnic Kosovo. Forget Resolution 1244. We only signed that to get rid of the Serbs.” — Balkans “peace negotiator” Richard Holbrooke, August 1999
Well, the late ambassador is definitely with his friends now.
Is this what’s meant by ’stupid white men’?
So why did Western leaders do it — and why do they continue to cover for our sadistic BFFs? Why, they did it all for love:
Of course, for Hillary and Bill it’s extra-important that this goes away. Because it all stems from their administration.
Because a president’s personal life doesn’t affect anything.
“Hillary Clinton biographer Gail Sheehy tells NBC’S DATELINE…that after the Monica Lewinsky affair was revealed, Hillary Clinton refused to speak to the President for eight months…the standoff did not end until one day in March, 1999 when Hillary called the president telling him to begin bombing Kosovo. Sheehy tells DATELINE’S Stone Phillips: ‘The day after she said that, he [Bill Clinton] announced that he was informing his NATO allies that he was recommending a bombing campaign.’” — Matt Drudge, November 24, 1999, regarding a November 29th broadcast of “Dateline”
What? Stolen organs? Maybe they did steal my watch!
Our politicians can’t regret — won’t regret — what they did for love. What they did for love. Here was a gem from the past week. No regrets:
Philip J. Crowley
Daily Press Briefing
December 17, 2010
QUESTION: …In the report, the FBI is mentioned as one of the sources of the inquiry. So is there anything new about that? We heard something –
MR. CROWLEY: We fully support that any investigation by a legitimate authority into these charges.
QUESTION: Do you have any contacts with Kosovo government on the issue?
MR. CROWLEY: …I’ll tell you what, I’m not aware of any contacts we’ve had since that report has come out…but I’ll take that question and see.
QUESTION: And do you have any concerns about what this might do to the U.S.-Kosovo relations, in particular –
MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think it’s going to change fundamentally U.S.-Kosovo relations.
QUESTION: Well, the U.S. –
MR. CROWLEY: I mean, they’re based on our mutual interest, not on specific personalities.
QUESTION: Well, right. But I mean, if — do you see any problem in dealing specifically with Mr. Thaci?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, at this point, since any individual anywhere in the world is innocent until proven otherwise, he is the current prime minister, and we will continue to work with that government. [Update: This “can only be interpreted ironically,” writer Gregory Elich would comment a month after this blog was published, “given how US and British officials repeated the wildest stories handed to them by the KLA prior to and during the Kosovo War, most of which were later proven to be untrue.” And columnist Vojin Joksimovich would point out that “the State Department treated the Serbian President Milosevic as a war criminal before he ever made it to The Hague.”]
QUESTION: Well, yeah, but you won’t deal with President Bashir; he’s not been convicted of anything. You don’t deal with Mugabe, pretty much, and he’s not been convicted of anything.
MR. CROWLEY: He — well, he — yeah.
QUESTION: You’re calling for Laurent Gbagbo to leave Ivory Coast.
MR. CROWLEY: For very different reasons, Matt.
QUESTION: Well, all of them have been accused of crimes. None of them have been convicted of anything. And yet — so why is Hashim Thaci given this luxury?
MR. CROWLEY: We’re not giving anybody a pass. As we’ve said, if there’s new information that is revealed in this report, it should be fully investigated.
QUESTION: Giving the pass on Hashim –
MR. CROWLEY: In fairness, we don’t want to neglect the back of the room.
Our “mutual interest”: Expand Albania, kill Christians, and Islamicize the Balkans. What other mutual interest is there? So far, that’s the only one that’s borne any fruit.