Council of Europe report alleges Hashim Thaci headed a crime ring that smuggled drugs, weapons and human organs.
|Thaci is likely to become prime minister again following a December 12 election [Reuters]|
Hashim Thaci, Kosovo’s prime minister, has said he will sue a Council of Europe investigator over a report that alleged he led an organised crime ring that trafficked human organs across eastern Europe.
In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Thaci said Dick Marty, a Swiss senator who wrote the report, should “prepare good lawyers to defend him”.
“Under no circumstances will Dick Marty escape justice for this slander,” he said, but did not elaborate.
Last week’s report accused Thaci of heading a crime ring during and after the Kosovo war in the late 1990s, which killed opponents and trafficked in drugs and organs taken from murdered Serbs.
Marty led a team of investigators to Kosovo and Albania in 2009, following allegations of organ trafficking published in a book by Carla Del Ponte, former chief UN war crimes tribunal prosecutor who said she was given information by Western journalists.
‘Powerful attack on Kosovo’
In a separate interview with the AP news agency also published on Wednesday, Thaci said he wanted an independent investigation to “dispel the mist” surrounding the allegations, saying he has “nothing to hide”.
He said the allegations were aimed at undermining Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia and blamed Marty for masterminding what he said was a “powerful attack upon Kosovo, Albania and all Albanians”.
“It damages Kosovo’s image and me personally. But, I have challenged similar inventions for the past 15 years and I have always won,” he told the AP.
Marty’s investigation found a number of detention facilities existed in Albania, where victims were allegedly held once the hostilities in Kosovo were over in 1999.
Among the facilities, his report said, was a “state-of-the-art reception centre for the organised crime of organ trafficking”.
It said Thaci headed a “small but inestimably powerful group of KLA personalities” called the Denica group that “wrested control of most of the illicit criminal enterprises … beginning at the latest in 1998”.
“Thaci and these other ‘Drenica Group’ members are consistently named as ‘key players’ in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organised crime,” he wrote.
The European Union police and justice mission (EULEX) in Kosovo has said it wants to examine the claims and has asaked Marty to send all the evidence he has to EU prosecutors in Pristina.
“EULEX has sent a letter to Mr Marty where we encourage him to provide the prosecutorial authorities within EULEX with any information or evidence that could shed light on the allegations made in his report,” Blerim Krasniqi, a spokesman, said.
Kosovo’s government was quick to dismiss the report as “full of clear fabrications, non-existent facts and allegations which are not confirmed by international justice”.
Thaci became a key leader in the KLA, which sought to separate Kosovo from Serbia. His role in the paramilitary group was partly to train Albanian recruits and dispatch them to Kosovo to fight.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008, with the support of the US and many other Western nations.
But Marty has accused Western countries of closing their eyes for the sake of stability and sacrificing important principles of justice.