December 21st 2010 08:57:46 PM
West ignores crimes of Kosovo militants led by Thaci — PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe)
LONDON, December 15 (Itar-Tass) - Western powers deliberately turned a blind eye to crimes committed by ethnic Albanian guerrillas of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), including the murders of Serbs [and others] for trade in their organs.
Marty is critical of the western powers which have provided a supervisory role in Kosovo’s emergence as a state, for failing to hold senior figures, including Thaci, to account…
…[Carla Del Ponte] alleged that serious crimes…had gone unpunished hitherto and had not been the subject of any serious investigation…This criminal activity…has continued…as demonstrated by an investigation being carried out by the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) relating to the Medicus clinic in Pristina. Although some concrete evidence of such trafficking already existed at the beginning of the decade, the international authorities in charge of the region did not consider it necessary to conduct a detailed examination of these circumstances, or did so incompletely and superficially.
As anyone who has given a damn about U.S. misadventures in the Balkans knows (which comes out to about four Americans if you include me), there wasn’t just a reluctance or neglect to investigate — though those are always a futile proposition in Kosovo anyway. There was outright evidence disposal — as is usual for all things “Kosova”:
Well, that’s the headline they felt it was OK for you to see. Here’s my headline for this article: HAGUE DESTROYED EVIDENCE AT “THE YELLOW HOUSE”
…The Council of Europe report names Hashim Thaci - prime minister and wartime political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) - 27 times.
The human rights body’s inquiry reinforces several aspects of a 2009 BBC report into similar allegations.
The report also appears to corroborate allegations of crimes, mainly against ethnic Serbs, at a farmhouse in the Albanian village of Rripe known as the “Yellow House”. [THAT’S JUST “SERBIAN INTERNET RUMOR!”]
The Yellow House allegations were contained in a joint investigation by the BBC and the Center for Investigative Reporting.
The draft Council of Europe report says a small number of deaths occurred there and goes on to claim that the house was used as a transit point where victims were processed according to their physical condition.
The end point, the report alleges, was at Fushe-Kruje where victims were killed and their organs removed. The report notes its proximity to Albania’s main airport near Tirana.
Mr Marty’s draft report is particularly critical of the UN War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague which, he says, carried out an exploratory mission to the Yellow House site in Rripe.
While pointing out that the tribunal did not have jurisdiction over Albania, the report complains that its initial investigation into organ-trafficking was dropped and evidence taken from the Yellow House destroyed.
The Hague chief prosecutor’s special adviser, Frederick Swinnen, told the BBC News website that investigators had decided that the evidence found [e.g. syringes and blood] was “limited and inconclusive” and “was not going to be used in our trials and our cases”. However, he added that a record of it had been kept.
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! ‘We didn’t find the evidence useful for our purposes — so we destroyed it. Isn’t that how investigations — aborted or pursued — normally go? Besides, we didn’t have jurisdiction over Albania — only over destroying evidence there.’
In its first reaction, the Kosovo government warned of legal and political steps against what it described as “slanders”.
Here I must point out that over the past week Kosovo officials have been carefully incorporating modifiers such as “legal” and “lawful” to describe the consequences that this report will bring about. That’s because they are finally in the Western public’s eye, and so their usual threats — promises of unspecified repercussions that could have “violent” and “destabilizing” results for the region (sans the “legal” modifier) — are being conscientiously avoided.
Spokesman Memli Krasniqi said the allegations had been investigated several times by local and international prosecutors, and the claims were found to be unsubstantiated.
“To us it’s clear that someone wants to embarrass Prime Minister Hashim Thaci after the landslide victory in last Sunday’s parliamentary elections,” he said.
Mr Thaci…said in a 2009 interview that certain individuals might have abused the uniform of the Kosovo Liberation Army but, if so, these were isolated incidents.
He’s been saying that for a decade. The conclusion of the news item being excerpted:
Michael Montgomery Center for Investigative Reporting
The Council of Europe’s draft report includes people who were in the inner circle in this alleged organ trafficking ring; sources who [are] actually witnesses to these macabre operations.
From personal experience it is extraordinarily difficult to get to the right people.
One thing that the report says is that, in their experience, penetrating the Albanian mafia is more difficult than penetrating the Sicilian mafia, the Cosa Nostra. It’s a very violent, closed society and very difficult to obtain information.
If any of these allegations are true you can imagine how tightly some people would try to protect these secrets.
Mr Marty’s report says that when the United Nations came to Kosovo, it decided to do business with the KLA and did not aggressively pursue war crimes investigations against senior KLA officials. […]
Just a reminder on that point:
Since such men had the capability of causing everything from political liquidations to mass armed resistance at the snap of a finger, UNMIK officials quickly realized it was better to come to an understanding with the ex-KLA than to cross it; “the deal was, you leave us alone, we leave you alone,” a former Swedish OSCE official in Kosovo sums up. “It had its benefits, mainly, that we were allowed to live.”
OK, next report, but with my own headline: Serbs as Aggressors and Kosovars as Victims Not Reality…Kosovo made it “complicated” to dig for bodies, Albania has refused to allow it
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci of Kosovo is one of the founders of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The report names him as the “boss” of a prominent faction in the militia that “apparently wrested control” of “illicit criminal enterprises” from rivals across the border in Albania.
Please understand what this first paragraph is saying. It’s saying that our boy Hashim is the “prime minister” and has our protection and propping-up because his group beat out rival local mafia clans in order to position himself for power. This is how our “partners” in Kosovo were determined.
…Kosovo’s government called the report “defamatory” and “mendacious,” saying the allegations “have been constructed to damage the image of Kosovo and the Kosovo Liberation Army.” [Take note of that charge; it’s revisited further down below.]
European Union officials in Kosovo said that anyone with concrete evidence of war crimes or organized crime should come forward.
…Investigators are not getting enough cooperation from either Albania or Kosovo, the report adds.
The KLA was backed by NATO bombing when it fought for independence from Serbia in the late 1990s…Nearly 1,900 people who disappeared during the conflict still have not been found, and another 500 disappeared after NATO troops arrived in June 1999, the report says.
Kosovo has made it “complicated” to dig for missing bodies, and Albania has refused to allow it, Marty says, adding: “Serbia ultimately cooperated.”
The [Hague] court opened an investigation into the allegations, but dropped it, the Council of Europe said, without explaining why. Evidence has since been destroyed, Marty’s draft says.
He acknowledges the chaotic situation in Kosovo after the war, but also criticizes the international community for tending to see Serbs as aggressors and Kosovars as victims.
“The reality is less clear-cut and more complex,” Marty writes. […]
Next report, again with my own headline: “Witnesses have been Intimidated and Killed”
…Accusations of organ trafficking in Kosovo are not new, but the links to Kosovo’s highest elected official have focused new attention on the issue.
The report was prepared by Dick Marty, a Swiss politician who…relied on the testimony of people who provided logistics for the ring, driving captives in unmarked vans between a series of way stations in Albania.
While a prosecutor, Ms. del Ponte, now a Swiss ambassador to Argentina, did not submit evidence of organ trafficking to the tribunal’s judges, constrained by rules that the court could only pursue war crimes committed up until June 1999 and that it lacked jurisdiction in Albania.
…[The ICTY] conducted initial examinations of the trafficking, but dropped the investigation and later destroyed some evidence…Witnesses have been intimidated and killed, according to the report.
…Initially the captives were Serb prisoners, but the ring also kidnapped ethnic Albanians to settle old scores, the report said…Mr. Marty called for increased resources and an investigation to find out what actually happened at the detention centers. Part of the problem, the report noted, is that after the war international authorities tended to regard Kosovar Albanians as innocent victims and the Serbs as “evil oppressors.”
“There cannot and must not be one justice for the winners and another for the losers,” Mr. Marty wrote.
In Belgrade, Serbian prosecutors hailed the report as a “victory that returned hope to the families of kidnapped or missing victims.” […]
[Dick Marty’s report] is a continuation of a series of reports published over the last 12 years, aimed at defiling the war of the Kosovo Liberation Army and its leaders.
This can be the only aim, of course, because it’s everyone’s concern to defile a little-remembered war from 12 years ago.
…It is clear that someone wants to obstruct Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi after parliamentary elections, in which the citizens of Kosovo, clearly and massively put their trust in him to continue his program for developing and governing our country.
Such low and bizarre acts, from people without any moral credibility, are only in the service of specific circles which do not want the best for Kosovo and its citizens. [And this comes to you from a morally credible Albanian mobster/politician.]
It is known widely amongst local and international opinion that Dick Marty from the beginning was prejudiced and decided [and not in the direction that the rest of the world has been prejudiced and decided in! — which is of course the neutral position], without being based on any fact or argument, to report in favour of the position expressed by his colleague and friend Carla Del Ponte and the Government and politicians of the Republic of Serbia.
Translation: If you stray from doing only what the Albanian side wants you to do, and stray from not doing what it doesn’t want you to do, then you can only be a puppet of the ‘Serbian regime,’ as Del Ponte found herself accused toward the tail-end of her otherwise respectably anti-Serb career at the Hague, when she looked into going after non-Serbian war criminals. So you’re either controlled by Belgrade, or are appeasing Belgrade if lending any consideration whatsoever to the losing side of that war and its after-effects. This pattern extends to Albanian media personalities — all of whom naturally supported this “independence” — but who have attempted to go after corruption in Kosovo, only to be labeled “Serbian spies” and threatened by officials, their media, and members of the disapproving public. Continuing now with the government’s statement:
But publishing such prejudiced and denouncing claims, without any basis in fact or argument is contrary to the professional ethics that “The Guardian” newspaper should maintain. [And as described above, the Kosovo government knows something about the journalistic ethics it enforces.]
The Government of the Republic of Kosovo and Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi will undertake all steps and actions necessary to oppose the claims of Dick Marty, including all legal and political paths.
The citizens of the Republic of Kosovo and wider international opinion will not believe the ill-intentioned fabrications of those who oppose the independence and sovereignty of our country and in absolutely no way, will they allow hooligans to defile the pure war of the Kosovo Liberation Army and the sacrifice of all the citizens of our country. [A “pure” war in the sense that Kosovo is now more or less ethnically pure. And the capital Pristina is even more pristine.]
The Government of the Republic of Kosovo calls on all member states of the Council of Europe to strongly oppose this fabricated and tendentious report and to not join the side of those who at all costs want to obstruct the stability, progress and good governance of the Republic of Kosovo.
The fact alone that they’re calling it “good governance” in Kosovo — when even a Croatian ambassador sent there over the summer had to be quickly replaced after he accidentally gasped — discredits everything else in the statement as well.
More reaction from the Thaci government:
…Thaci said the aim of the report was “to devalue both the KLA and the independence of Kosovo.”
The deputy president of the Kosovo parliament, Xhavit Haliti, who is named in the report as one of the main people involved in weapons, drug and organ trafficking, described the accusations as “absurd.”
“The KLA never smuggled drugs or had help from drug smugglers,” he said. “The accusation about organ trafficking is very odd, since there never was anything like that. And as for arms smuggling: everyone knew we were interested in weapons, because we were at war with Serbia. But there was never any smuggling. We bought weapons to fight with, and there was no need to hide the fact.”
Haliti wants Europe and the United States to set up an expert commission to examine the accusations in detail. The Kosovo interior minister, Bajram Rexhepi, said he would support any investigation of the claims by the Kosovo police…But if these accusations are without any foundation, then the one who made them must be held to his responsibility, since these are very serious accusations.” [That means that if Marty’s allegations can’t be proved (which by the way is different from being “disproved”), then we have to let the Albanians shoot him and sell his organs.]
But Rainer Stinner, German parliamentary spokesman for foreign affairs of the liberal Free Democrats…does not think the report’s motives are political.
“…The accusations have been around for some time. The report is very [detailed], but when you read it, you find a lot of assumptions and conclusions. I’d be interested to see whether it would stand up in a court of law.”
Vladimir Vukcevic, the Serbian war crimes prosecutor who has led an investigation into the alleged organ trafficking…offered to cooperate with colleagues in Kosovo and Albania, and said that his investigations were much further forward than those of Dick Marty.
However, the Serbian president, Boris Tadic, said he would not preclude a dialogue with the Kosovo prime minister until the accusations were confirmed or disproved.
Tadic, of course, is trying to give Kosovo away as he heads into Western-coerced talks of a purely logistical nature with Kosovo’s “leaders.” So these allegations are actually getting in his way as if he were the Kosovo government himself. Note to Tadic: This is just the sort of cosmic interference that can happen when you decide to sell your country out. He even announced that he would not be issuing a warrant for Thaci. (One notes the conspicuous absence in all this of the opposition in Serbia to call for such a warrant and demand Tadic’s resignation.) As Andy Wilcoxson warns:
According to this classified cable I found on Wikileaks, the European Union has told the Serbian government in no uncertain terms that the only way Serbia can join the EU is to recognize Kosovo. This is totally contrary to the EU and the Tadic regime’s publicly stated assertions that the two issues are not linked…The fact that Tadic is pursuing EU membership means that his intention is to forfeit Kosovo. The Serbian people need to know the truth because the Tadic regime is misleading them…
Here is an item on Serbia war crime prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic’s more farther-along investigation:
Serbia says 500 victims of alleged organ trafficking (AFP, Dec. 16)
BELGRADE - Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor who has led an investigation on alleged organ trafficking by ethnic Albanian guerrillas in 1999 said on Thursday there had been some 500 victims of the racket.
Vukcevic said it “is not important” whose judiciary would handle the case.
“What is important is to show that the crimes have been committed and that those behind them will face justice,” Vukcevic said at a press conference. [Uh, that’s why it’s important whose judiciary handles the case. Unless he wants the evidence he gathered to disappear.]
He offered his office’s findings to his colleagues in Kosovo and Albania, saying its investigation “is a way ahead of Dick Marty’s one.” [They won’t be impressed, Vlad.]
“Without co-operation between prosecutors in Kosovo, Albania and Serbia, there will be no progress in this investigation,” Vukcevic said. [Exactly.]
The EU’s police and justice mission in Kosovo, EULEX has a mandate to try cases that the Kosovo judiciary cannot or will not handle because of their sensitive nature, like war crimes and corruption claims.
Vukcevic did not want to speculate whether Serbian authorities had more evidence implicating Thaci in the affair.
Vukcevic’s office adds the following: Albanians deposited Serb organ profits in Islamic charities, prosecutor
Serbian war crimes prosecutor says that the Kosovo Albanian criminal boss, Hashim Thaci, used bank accounts designated as Islamic charity to deposit profits he earned by selling organs he extracted from captured Serbs.
The prosecutor’s office says that Thaci deposited his organized crime money in Swiss, German and Albanian bank accounts.
Names of some of those accounts are Help For Kosovo, Medicare, Caravan, Al- Haramajin, Taibah International. etc.
Serbian prosecution says that the FBI has also uncovered these accounts after the 9/11 attacks but it is not specified why the FBI withheld the information about Thaci. […]
Now, readers will recall that in three recent blogs I mentioned former ambassador and ex-CIA operative William Walker as taking his Albanian partisanship to the next level and openly supporting Albanian unification into the long-hushed ‘Serbian myth’ of Greater Albania. He then went to Kosovo for the elections in support of the “radical” (but very popular in Kosovo) “Self-determination” movement. It now appears he may have been setting himself up to distance himself from Thaci and the rest of the gangsters who hold power. And this is exactly what he’s doing; the timing of his recent announcement and trip (days before the elections) couldn’t have been more precise. Here is Walker on all this:
…The crime and corruption given succour by such an approach [favoring stability over justice] over the past decade has deterred foreign investment and left Kosovo among the most destitute regions in Europe.
“There’s a lot of thugs around, a lot of criminal activity,” said William Walker, a former U.S. diplomat who headed the Organisation for Security and Cooperation mission in Kosovo in the late 1990s. [And who coordinated the staged Racak atrocity with the KLA whom he now wags a finger at.]
“I fault the international community as much as the Albanians. They feel that the PDK represents stability,” he said of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci’s party, which came first in Sunday’s first post-independence election with a third of the vote. [This is new; when has William Walker ever faulted the Albanians for anything?]
Nebojsa Malic also finds it ‘interesting’ that Reuters chose to ask Walker for his thoughts, and what those thoughts were:
The sheer depth of depravity the world has sunk to amazes me. I mean, here we have the KLA, whose conduct would make the Waffen SS blush, and how much are you willing to bet that absolutely nothing will come of it? Or worse yet, that Thaci will be pushed out in favor of the “Natural Albania” crowd?
Which is exactly where this is going: the next reward for Albanian bad behavior. Because of recent news, the “Kosovars” and their American henchmen are not quite in a position now to “take” Northern Mitrovica — to subdue the last unconquered, still-safe-for-Serbs part of Kosovo, as has been the unofficial long-term plan (and as we tried to do in March 2008). Especially if Russia gets the name of even one of its citizens who was kidnapped for organs — which alone could fulfill the qualification for ‘international incident’ — we’re probably not ready for the war we wanted with her in 1999 and for which we’ve been orienting our military and foreign policy.
So when our dangerous Albanian masters start pressing the knife deeper into the throats of the internationals and the American politicians whose images smile from buildings and monuments in Kosovo and Albania (look for some vandalism of those in the next two years), the international community will have to tell our clients that, finally, they have to “compromise.” That is, the Albanians will be given less than what was promised them by America, which is supposed to be able to make anything happen. However, to put off any potential violence resulting from this disappointment, America will tell the Albanians to let Mitrovica go and possibly take a “swap” deal on neighboring Presevo Valley (which according to this CIA map — before it was hastily altered — has already been designated for Albanian ownership anyway).
With or without Presevo Valley going to the Albanians, we will step up delivery of other Albanian-coveted lands, which means that Macedonia will start to feel the heat as we reinforce our assistance to the Albanian terrorists trying to secure the western half of that country.
And Greater Albania will be an undisputed reality, as Nebojsa portends above.
To finish up the Reuters article above, which got me onto the William Walker/Greater Albania subject:
…This summer, Kosovo’s European Union police and justice mission (EULEX) arrested the central bank governor on charges of money laundering, tax evasion and accepting bribes…Diplomats who do not want to be named say they know of many allegations of high-level crime and corruption in Kosovo, but see far fewer high-level convictions.
“Kosovo has a very poor reputation internationally, therefore can’t attract international investment,” said a senior international diplomat.
Thaci has raised eyebrows by building an 800-square metre house just outside the capital Pristina. Earlier this year he told Reuters he had taken out a bank loan to fund the project.
…In its 2010 progress report on Kosovo last month, the European Commission was blunt on crime and corruption. “Available information revealed discrepancies between the income and properties of senior Kosovo officials,” the report said. “This indicates widespread corruption at high levels in Kosovo persists. This fact has not been followed up by public debate or investigations of the relevant bodies, showing a distinct lack of political will in fighting corruption.”
Interestingly, the breaking news about organs is not much of a story in — guess where — Kosovo itself where, coincidentally, media are under control of the government. Kosovo journalists are ignoring the story, since they know they’ll stay healthier longer that way — as documented above. Herewith, the relevant Guardian dispatch:
…The Guardian understands that if there is sufficient evidence against Thaçi or the other senior government figures implicated in the report, they could face prosecution.
…Andy Sparkes, deputy head of Eulex, added: “If they have got chapter and verse on this kind of thing, then obviously we would like to hear from them more formally so that we can deal with it.”
This opening quote requires a brief comment first: Notice the ubiquitous emphasis in all of the recent news items on there needing to be hard, solid evidence — “chapter and verse,” as it’s put here. (And see German parliamentary spokesman Rainer Stinner’s way of saying it in one of the previous items above.) For those who know how to read Balkans news, this is the internationals setting themselves up to be able to say down the road that there just wasn’t enough evidence to meet the rigorous criteria for successful prosecution — thereby saving the lives of their staff. Separately, this stands in stark contrast to the less-than-rigorous way that the Hague has been securing false testimony by a single witness in order to successfully prosecute and imprison a Serbian defendant for decades. (See any number of the ICTY cases examined at slobodan-milosevic.org, especially the Krstic judgment.) Back to the article:
[Marty’s] findings are said to have sparked a diplomatic crisis behind the scenes. Russia is understood to have sent urgent cables to Pristina, demanding to know the identity of any nationals who have fallen victim to organ trafficking.
…Serbia’s foreign minister, Vuk Jeremic, called the report “a signal for the civilised world community to stop turning their backs to the terrible situation in Kosovo; this report shows what Kosovo is and who is leading it”.
The report has received less attention in Kosovo, where journalists critical of the government have received death threats, than in the rest of the world.
Details of the report were contained in some newspapers, although the state television made no mention that the prime minister had been linked to organised crime in its main news bulletin.
Pristina-based analysts said the report was being viewed sceptically in the country. […]
Indeed, in case you think the Kosovo public is demanding its right to know, there’s this:
…Lawrence Marzouk, who is based in Pristina as Kosovo editor for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, said neither the Kosovo government, opposition groups nor civil society have scrambled to address the contents of the report, which, he said, are sensitive matters for most Kosovo Albanians.
“It’s that it remains an incredibly taboo issue that people don’t want to talk about, mainly because of this status that the Kosovo Liberation Army obviously has in Kosovo, as freedom fighters, as liberators,” he told Deutsche Welle. “There is still an enormous amount of respect for these people who fought to free Kosovo.”
Marzouk adds that investigators faced an uphill battle to force a rethink of the KLA’s actions during the war.
“The line from the KLA has always been that they fought a clean war, and that there was no wrong-doing, and that’s a line that most people take publicly.” […]
So in response to Dick Marty’s saying, “It is a fundamental right of Kosovo’s citizens to know the truth, the whole truth…” — really, Mr. Marty, they’re OK with it.
So here’s the mind-bender of the week: Why would Kosovo officials and other Albanians be acting all horrified or in-denial by these organ-trafficking “allegations” (i.e. common knowledge in Europe), when if you’re already trafficking whole people as the notorious Albanian kings of the sex trade do internationally, why wouldn’t you also traffic in parts of people? Why is it so much worse? It’s a pretty fine line, anyway.
Here’s just another example of a report with an official or spokesman telling Marty to cough up more “evidence”:
Brussels - The European Union was put on the spot….Writing for the Council of Europe, former Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty indicated that intelligence reports from NATO and four EU states - Germany, Britain, Italy and Greece - has consistently named Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and his associates as “key players (in) Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organized crime.”
“We take the allegations seriously but we invite Mr Marty to put forward the evidence,” Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, reacted in Brussels.
“What is particularly confounding is that all of the international community in Kosovo - from the governments of the United States and other Western powers, to the EU-backed justice authorities - undoubtedly possess the same, overwhelming documentation…but none seems prepared to react in the face of such a situation and hold the perpetrators to account,” Marty charged.
As recently as Monday, Ashton had congratulated the Kosovo authorities for the “calm and orderly manner” in which the “majority” of Sunday’s elections took place.
A further element of embarrassment was provided by Marty’s allegation that EULEX, the justice and police mission the EU sent to Kosovo, is seriously hampered in its work because the Kosovo authorities are reluctant to share information with it.
“The only remedial action (EULEX officials) can take is to write a report that…probably lands on a desk somewhere in Brussels and is treated with minimal urgency and a premium on political correctness,” Marty lamented. […]
Which is exactly how they’re looking forward to handling all this.
In fact, even if we had a photo of Thaci eating organs, the world would probably say: Well, you know, there’s a lot of malnutrition in the Balkans. Have a heart. “No thanks, already had one.”