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Date:26 May 2012

Kosovo Human Organ Trafficking Mastermind Arrested In Israel

Voice of Freedom :A key suspect in an organ-trafficking case in Kosovo has been arrested in Israel, European Union prosecutors say.

Israeli police have not confirmed the arrest or what alleged offence they are investigating.

EU prosecutors suspect Moshe Harel of masterminding an illegal trade organ trade involving a clinic in the Kosovan capital, Pristina.

His arrest was announced to a court in Kosovo on Thursday, an EU press officer in Pristina told the "BBC" News website.

Israeli newspapers have recently reported the arrest of 10 people over an international organ-trafficking network, but it is unclear if Mr Harel is among them.

But he is known to be among nine people indicted in the Kosovo case, which relates to organ transplants carried out in 2008.

Prosecutor Jonathan Ratel, of the EU law and justice mission (Eulex), said Mr Harel "and several other suspects" had been arrested in Israel "in connection with an investigation in Israel".

The Eulex prosecutor is now "in close co-operation with the authorities in Israel" with regard to an international arrest alert issued by Interpol for Mr Harel at the request of the Special Prosecution Office of Kosovo, Eulex press officer Bardha Azari told the BBC.

The owner of the Kosovo clinic at the centre of the allegations, Lutfi Dervishi of Medicus, has denied any wrongdoing.

On the other hand, according to local news agency, "TANJUG" , the suspected mastermind behind an organ trafficking network has been arrested in Israel, EU Special Prosecutor Jonathan Ratel said on Thursday.

"We have received information that Moshe Harel has been arrested in Israel on organ trafficking and other related offences. We are seeking confirmation with the Israeli authorities," he told AFP.

If confirmed, the arrest could lead to a breakthrough in the trial of seven people accused of organ trafficking and illegal transplants at the Medicus clinic in Pristina (Prishtina) in 2008, the French agency said.

Harel was arrested in Pristina that year but fled Kosovo after he was released from detention.

Kosovo authorities subsequently issued an international arrest warrant.

According to the indictment, at least 30 illegal kidney removals and transplants were carried out in the Pristina clinic in 2008.

The donors were from poor Eastern European and Central Asian countries, who were promised about EUR 15,000 to become organ donors.

The indictment describes the Israeli national as the mastermind of a network for recruiting donors and finding recipients.

The seven suspects on trial include former Kosovo Health Secretary Ilir Rexhaj and Lutfi Dervishi, a prominent Pristina urologist, writes AFP.

Another suspect in the case is Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez, accused of having carried out illegal operations to remove organs. He is also indicted in Turkey.

The Kosovo clinic was raided by police in 2008 after a Turkish man collapsed at Pristina airport waiting for a flight back to Istanbul after having his kidney removed.

The case is being tried by EULEX, set up to help the local judiciary handle sensitive cases. The territory of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 (unilaterally), concludes AFP.

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