Kosovo: Five Convicted of Organ Trafficking
Five individuals were convicted in Pristina on Monday for their roles in an international organ-trafficking scheme that promised impoverished people large payouts in return for their organs, the New York Times reported. Many donors were never compensated, and proper medical care was not provided after the operations.
The prosecution’s case claimed that victims were promised up to $26,000 in return for an organ. Twenty-four poor individuals from Turkey, Moldova, and Russia were netted by the scheme. The donors signed false claim that they were donating organs to a relative for humanitarian reasons, the New York Times reported.
Prosecutors described the scheme as a “cruel harvest of the poor” driven by profit and greed. Rich clients from the United States, Canada, Israel, and Germany paid as much as $130,000 for the organs.
The scheme came to light when, in 2008, a Turkish man collapsed in the Pristina Airport and told authorities his kidney had been stolen, the New York times reported. When authorities raided the Medicus Clinic, where the operation had taken place, they found an elderly man who had paid $90,000 for the kidney.
Dr. Lutfi Derveshi, the clinic’s director and a licensed urologist, faces eight years in prison. His son, Arban Dervishi, received a seven-year sentence, and the facility’s anesthesiologist, Dr. Sokol Hajdini, faces three years in prison.. Two others received one-year suspended sentences, while another two defendants were acquitted.
This is not the first high profile case of organ trafficking in Kosovo. A 2010 report by the Council of Europe accused the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of killing Serb prisoners taken during the 1999 conflict between Kosovo and Serbia, and then harvesting organs to traffick. The report charged the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) with a further investigation into the possibility of human rights violations.