National News

Kosovo prosecutor suspects some killed for organs

By Raf Casert, The Associated Press

BRUSSELS - A special European Union prosecutor says there are "compelling indications" that up to ten captives were killed to have their organs harvested for illegal trafficking during the 1998-99 Kosovo war.

However, American prosecutor Clint Williamson said Tuesday that the level of evidence is not yet sufficient to prosecute the alleged crimes.

The EU probe followed a 2011 Council of Europe report alleging that the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army ran detention camps on Albania's border during Kosovo's war for independence from Serbia. It alleged that civilian captives were killed there and their organs sold as part of an illegal trade linked to senior KLA commanders.

Williamson said he does not at this stage wish to name any individual suspect. He also went to lengths to make clear the alleged harvesting was not a wholesale practice, rejecting claims of hundreds of victims.

"Handful was meant literally — ten," Williamson said, holding up two hands with outstretched fingers. "That is the approximate range of the number."

The chief prosecutor of the Special Investigative Task Force said his 2 1/2 year investigation also largely confirmed other human right reports, reaching as far back as 1999, that there was a campaign of persecution of Serb, Roma and other minorities by certain people in the KLA leadership.

He said that in future the SITF would be "in a position to file an indictment against certain senior officials of the former Kosovo Liberation Army" for a series of crimes, including killings, disappearances, camp detentions and sexual violence.

About 10,000 people died in Kosovo's 1998-99 war for independence before NATO intervened to force Serbia to end its brutal crackdown against Kosovo separatists and pull its troops out of the territory.

Serbia has vowed never to recognize the independence of its former province, which many Serbians consider their nation's heartland.

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