Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kosovo Albanian Organ Trafficking: Who Is Yusuf Somnez?

In early January, a Turkish doctor walked free from from detention in his land of birth.  Yusuf Somnez had been accused of organ trafficking, and an international arrest warrant was hanging over his head.  Though little ink has been spilled in the Western media on this Turkish doctor, in legal circles he is well known.  Somnez is suspected of being a major player in the murky international trade in human organs.  His ties to Kosovo, and a clinic there, Medicus, however, make it clear the charges that Kosovo Albanians were involved in slicing and dicing Serbs before trading them on the international market is much more than "Serb propaganda" as the Kosovo Albanians contend.

Somnez was detained January 13 in Istanbul.  He was released later that date on bail.  

That news was met with disbelief in Belgrade.

Serbia's Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic told the Serbian news agency Tanjug he decision to release Sonmez undermines the efforts by the EU Mission in Kosovo, EULEX, to investigate the organ trafficking case related to a private clinic in the Kosovo capital of Pristina.  

The clinic in question is called Medicus, and it is the key link that may prove Kosovo 'freedom fighters' from the KLA did in fact chop up Serbs and other unfortunates and shop their organs on the international market.

To understand that, we need to look into who exactly is Somnez, or "Doctor Vulture", or "Doctor Vampire" or the "Turkish Frankenstein", take your pick, as some call the calculating, cold-blooded  doctor. 

The 53-year-old Somnez admits to doing thousands of transplants, but insists all was copacetic, with the donors signing on the dotted line. 

Writing on his web site, Sonmez - who has been convicted on similar charges in Turkey, according to press reports - denied any wrongdoing in the Kosovo case, claiming he was the victim of media "lynching."

However, others are of another opinion, including the international police organization, Interpol.  

The organization wants Somnez for "crimes against life and health, people smuggling, trafficking and illegal immigration".

The Guardian accuses Somnez of having been a key player in the unscrupulous organ market for more than 10 years.

The British daily offers up some interesting background: 

The Turk has been repeatedly arrested for organ transplants in his native country, where colleagues describe him as an accomplished but rebellious surgeon. In 1998, Turkish TV, whose reporters posed as donors, found seven patients, mostly from Israel. Sonmez was later banned from working in Turkey's public health sector.

Somnez has not limited his moribund practice to his homeland, being linked with countries from as far afield as Azerbaijan, Ecuador and Ukraine. 
But it is his ties with Kosovo that could unravel the riddle of whether the KLA was up to their bloody elbows in organ trafficking.

Somnez ties to Medicus became clear in November 2008 when a young Turk, Yilman Altun, fainted at Pristina's international airport.  

Altun was weak because his kidney had been removed hours earlier at a Medicus clinic in a poor suburb in Kosovo.   The kidney was transplanted to a wealthy old Israeli, who paid some $130,000 for the organ.  Altun says instead of the promises riches, he got next to nothing except a flight back to Turkey.  The surgeon holding the scalpel?  None other than Somnez.

The Medicus office was raided by Kosovo police and others were apprehended, including four anesthetists and shockingly (if you don't comprehend the depth of corruption and wrongdoing in Kosovo) a former permanent secretary in the health ministry and a leading urologist, Lufti Dervishi.  

It was Dervishi who set up the clinic with his son.  

According to Jonathan Ratel, a prosecutor handling the case for the EU, police found a lot of interesting, incriminating documentation at Medicus.  

The Guardian recounts:

Police found such forms at Medicus, along with a "vast quantity" of medical equipment and records of all the transplants, according to Ratel, who said that up to 30 victims lost their kidneys in the clinic in just eight months in 2008. Patients from Canada, Germany, Poland and Israel had received organ transplants at the clinic. But despite promises of payment of up to €20,000, the donors had left empty-handed, he said.

Dick Marty has said the Medicus case is "closely related" to the investigation he has been carrying out for the Council of Europe on the KLA organ trafficking claims.  

To recap, Marty has implicated the current Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci with involvement in the illegal operations of trafficking organs from executed Serb prisoners held in detention camps set up by Kosovo guerrillas in Albania in the wake of the 1998-99 war in Kosovo.

Afflicted with logic and common sense, Marty connects the dots between the two cases. 

"Not in the least through prominent Kosovar Albanian and international personalities who feature as co-conspirators in both," the report said, adding that it would not publish its findings in this regard out of respect for the ongoing EULEX investigation into the Medicus clinic.

EULEX, the EU's law enforcement mission in Kosovo, surprise surprise sees no connection.  

“I don’t have any further comments on Mr Marty’s report. I have already said everything about it – we have encouraged Mr Marty and sent him a letter that he is free to present to EULEX all the evidence he has concerning organized crime and other crimes,” EULEX spokesperson Irina Gudeljevic said.

It should come as no surprise that Brussels wants to ignore the deeper implications.  Most of its members have backed Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence. 

There are other reasons as well. 

Former Serbian Ambassador to France and Political Science Faculty Professor Predrag Simić explains that the western countries do not want the investigation to be taken over by the UN because the U.S. do not want to make Serbs and Albanians equal by forming another Hague Tribunal.

“At the moment, it’s out of the question for the U.S. that Albanians are guilty. They can be guilty a little bit but not like Serbs who are being tried in the Hague Tribunal. The U.S. has been trying to cushion the crisis caused by Dick Marty’s report since the beginning,” he pointed out. 

The Daily Telegraph paints the bigger picture.

If ever it is proved that the KLA leader whom Mr Blair backed was really a mafia boss, a murderer and traded in human organs, then the history of that campaign will have to be rewritten – and the gloss put on it by Mr Blair will vanish.

The most damning of Mr Marty's claims is that a number of Serb and other prisoners who had been moved to Albania in the wake of the war were executed and their organs sold. The claim was first made publicly by Carla Del Ponte, the former chief prosecutor of the UN's Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague in a book in 2008. Subsequent investigations have failed to prove the claims, which Mr Thaci says are defamatory.

Despite those efforts, the Kosovo organ trafficking story is not going away.  

Marty is expected to address the European Parliament's Foreign Policy Committee on March 10, according to the daily Politika. 

The EU is standing firm by its stance that the UN keep its nose out of the Kosovo mess.  

“The EU stands by what is already known and that it that EULEX should deal with the investigation into the alleged organ trafficking in Kosovo and that Mr. Marty should provide evidence for the allegations he made in the report. If he has any. EULEX needs to work based on evidence and Marty was asked twice in writing to produce evidence. Therefore, Brussels only supports EULEX,” said the daily’s source, pointing out that EULEX was already conducting a preliminary investigation and that it had capacity to complete the investigation. 

And, insofar as the Kosovo Albanians want this affair investigated, which they don't, if it must be, they want the EULEX to do it.

Could they be confident a whitewash would result?  


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