The Serbian Foreign Minister criticises the Kosovan Prime Minister after a draft report claims he was one of the key players in the trafficking of Serbian prisoners' organs after the 1998-99 conflict

Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci

The report by Swiss Council of Europe deputy Dick Marty accuses Kosovan Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and senior commanders of the ethnic Albanian group the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of having set up the traffic.

It says: "Some Serbians and some Albanian Kosovars were held prisoner in secret places of detention under KLA control in northern Albania and were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, before ultimately disappearing."

The conflict between Kosovo guerrillas and forces loyal to the late Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic left around 13,000 people dead. Around 1,900 are still unaccounted for in connection with the conflict. Serbia lost control of Kosovo in 1999 when NATO waged a bombing campaign to halt killings of ethnic Albanians.

Mr Marty's report claimed that in the wake of the conflict, and before international forces had time to re-establish law and order there, "organs were removed from some prisoners at a clinic in Albanian territory." He said these organs were then shipped out of Albania and sold to private overseas clinics as part of the international ‘black market' of organ trafficking for transplantation. This "has continued, albeit in other forms, until today," he wrote.

Reaction to the report

Marty, a former prosecutor in Switzerland, will present his report to the Council of Europe's legal team on Thursday. Thaci's ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) which won the most votes in Sunday's General Elections denounced his report as "fabrications".

Some Serbians and some Albanian Kosovars were held prisoner in secret places of detention under KLA control in northern Albania and were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, before ultimately disappearing, Dick Marty, Council of Europe draft report

"It is based on groundless facts which are invented with a goal to harm Kosovo's image", it added. And it said it would "take all possible and necessary steps in order to confront Marty's fabrications, including legal ones."

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, speaking through a Russian translator, said Thaci's future had been thrown into doubt.

"This report is a signal showing that it is time for the civilized world community to stop turning their backs to the terrible situation in Kosovo, this report shows what Kosovo is and who is heading it," he said. "We should all get down to resolving this complicated issue."

The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) said in October it had charged five people, including doctors and a former senior health ministry official, for trafficking in human organs, organised crime, unlawful medical activities and abusing official authority.

Marty accused Thaci of being "the boss" of a "small but inestimably powerful group of KLA personalities" who took control of organised crime in the region from at least 1998.

Claims of organ trafficking in Kosovo first arose in the 2008 memoirs of former UN chief war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, which prompted the Council of Europe investigation.