Del Ponte regrets lack of evidence in organ harvesting case

Former ICTY chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte expressed regret Tuesday over the fact that the team headed by U.S. prosecutor John Clint Williamson had been unable to find sufficient evidence regarding human organ trafficking in Kosovo.

(kosovocompromisestuff) Wednesday, July 30, 2014

“It is more difficult to do a proper investigation after so many years” and I am not surprised about that, Del Ponte said in a telephone statement for Tanjug, adding that the ICTY had not been able to conduct an investigation as “nobody was helping at all.”She expressed the hope that sufficient evidence would be found to file organ trafficking charges in the future.Del Ponte pointed to the fact that Williamson, head of a special task force investigating the 1999 case of human organ trafficking in Kosovo, had told a press conference in Brussels today that he believed the organ trafficking had indeed taken place.Del Ponte first made claims about Kosovo Albanians smuggling human organs of kidnapped Serbs in a book of hers, titled The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals, published in April 2008, after she resigned as ICTY chief prosecutor.She alleged that ICTY investigators and UNMIK officials had obtained the information that in the summer of 1999, Kosovo Albanians had loaded over 300 abducted and captured civilians, mainly Serbs and a small number of Roma and Albanians, in trucks bound for Burrel (central Albania), to kill them there for the purpose of extracting their organs and transporting them via the Tirana International Airport to be sold abroad.However, all the eight witnesses mentioned by Del Ponte went missing, and the evidence collected by UN investigators was destroyed at the ICTY, after a relevant probe was not launched, in 2005.In December 2010, former Council of Europe (CoE) special rapporteur Dick Marty passed a report for adoption to the CoE, blaming the crimes on members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), paramilitary organization set up by ethnic Albanians, and its commanders, including Kosovo's Prime Minister Hasim Taci.Based on the report, the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE adopted a resolution in January 2011, based on which an independent investigation was launched and prosecutor Williamson appointed as head of the EULEX Special Investigative Task Force (SITF) on August 29, 2011.In today’s statement on the SITF findings after three years of investigation into the case, Williamson said that little or no physical evidence existed for the crimes, but the findings had shown evidence of the KLA conducting an ethnic cleansing campaign.The campaign was "directed against the Serb, Roma and other minority populations of Kosovo and toward fellow Kosovo Albanians whom they have labeled either to be collaborators with the Serbs or, more commonly, to have simply been political opponents of the KLA leadership," the U.S. prosecutor said.The level of evidence needed to prosecute the organs harvesting and trafficking allegations not yet being secured “is not say that this evidence will not come together, and we certainly continue to vigorously pursue it,” said Williamson.