Cyprus arrests Kosovo organ-trafficking suspect

A Turkish doctor, Yusuf Sonmez, is still wanted in the Medicus case but remains at large

One of the main suspects in Kosovo’s Medicus clinic case, Moshe Harel, has been arrested in Cyprus on suspicion of involvement in organ-trafficking, police in Pristina told BIRN on Saturday.

Is not clear however if an extradition request has been filed by the Kosovo authorities yet.

“Kosovo Police have information that based on an international warrant arrest, the suspect M.H., who has been wanted since 2010, has been arrested days ago in Cyprus,” Kosovo Police spokesperson Baki Kelani told BIRN.

In July 2017, Pristina Basic Court started the retrial of Medicus clinic owner Lutfi Dervishi, his son Arban Dervishi and head anesthetist Sokol Hajdini, all accused of involvement in organized crime in connection with people-trafficking.

In March 2016, Kosovo’s appeals court had confirmed their convictions, jailing Lutfi Dervishi and his son for eight years and Hajdini for five. But a Supreme Court ruling overturned the original verdict on the basis of procedural irregularities.

The ruling said found that “multiple illegal kidney transplants” took place at the clinic in 2008.

Poor people from Turkey, Russia, Moldova and Kazakhstan were allegedly brought to the clinic after being assured that they would receive up to 15,000 euro for their kidneys.

The EULEX prosecutor in the case said then that transplant recipients, mainly Israelis, paid more than 70,000 euro for the kidneys.

Harel was also charged in Israel in 2015 with international organ-trafficking and organizing illegal transplants, alongside six others.

“The accused ran a real business in trafficking organs, on dozens of occasions over the course of years, exploiting the financial distress of the donors and the health crisis of the recipients for economic gain,” the Israeli justice ministry said at the time.

As well as Harel, a Turkish doctor, Yusuf Sonmez, is still wanted in the Medicus case but remains at large.

Police initially raided the Medicus clinic in 2008 after a Turkish man whose kidney had been removed was found seriously ill at Pristina airport.

The clinic was also mentioned in a Council of Europe report which alleged that elements of the Kosovo Liberation Army traded the organs of prisoners during the 1999 conflict.

These and other allegations eventually led to the establishment of the new Hague-based Specialist Chambers, which will try former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighters for wartime and post-war crimes, although it has yet to issue any indictments.

Investigators closed down the Medicus clinic in 2008, and it has since been sold.