Following his resignation on November 5th, as SouthFront previously reported, now former, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci was arrested.
He can be considered as generally accused of crimes against humanity, carried out during the conflict against Serbia.
Earlier in 2020 a special prosecutor accused Thaci and others of being “criminally responsible” for 100 murders, during Kosovo’s 1998-99 independence war against Serbia.
A former senior commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), he later turned to politics, in common with a number of KLA colleagues.
His indictment had been expected since the special prosecutor made accusations in June that the Kosovo leader was “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders”, torture and enforced disappearances.
The Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) was set up in 2015 to investigate alleged crimes against ethnic minorities and political opponents by the KLA during the war in which Kosovo broke away from Serbia. The tribunal operates under Kosovo law but is staffed by international judges and prosecutors.
“The Indictment alleges that Hashim THAÇI, Kadri VESELI, and the other charged suspects are criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders. The crimes alleged in the Indictment involve hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities and include political opponents,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement back in June.
Back then the charges were being reviewed by a judge, but it appears they’ve all passed.
“The Specialist Prosecutor has deemed it necessary to issue this public notice of charges because of repeated efforts by Hashim THAÇI and Kadri VESELI to obstruct and undermine the work of the KSC,” the prosecutor’s office said.
“Mr THAÇI and Mr VESELI are believed to have carried out a secret campaign to overturn the law creating the Court and otherwise obstruct the work of the Court in an attempt to ensure that they do not face justice. By taking these actions, Mr THAÇI and Mr VESELI have put their personal interests ahead of the victims of their crimes, the rule of law, and all people of Kosovo,” the statement concluded.
To provide some overview of what led to this, and what Hashim Thaci actually has done, an investigative piece of reporting was published by Russian newspaper KP, back in 2008. Investigative journalists went to Kosovo to follow through on claims made in a book by former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Carla Del Ponte.
She served as the ICTY Prosecutor between 1999 and announced that she would “return to normal life” on January 30th, 2007. She was succeeded by Serge Brammertz on January 1st, 2008.
In her book titled, “The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals,” Ponte described how a black organ market formed during the Kosovo War. Meanwhile, she said, the European Union played dumb paying no attention to the crimes. KP journalists went to Kosovo to learn more about the crimes.
In her book she outlines the organ trafficking business that was allegedly going on, plus investigative journalists from KP went on-site to ask questions.
These are excerpts from the book, below:
“According to the journalists’ sources, who were only identified as Kosovo Albanians, some of the younger and fitter prisoners were visited by doctors and were never hit. They were transferred to other detention camps in Burrel and the neighboring area, one of which was a barracks behind a yellow house 20 km behind the town.
One room inside this yellow house, the journalists said, was kitted out as a makeshift operating theater, and it was here that surgeons transplanted the organs of prisoners. These organs, according to the sources, were then sent to Rinas airport, Tirana, to be sent to surgical clinics abroad to be transplanted to paying patients.
One of the informers had personally carried out a shipment to the airport. The victims, deprived of a kidney, were then locked up again, inside the barracks, until the moment they were killed for other vital organs. In this way, the other prisoners in the barracks were aware of the fate that awaited them, and according to the source, pleaded, terrified to be killed immediately.
Among the prisoners who were taken to these barracks were women from Kosovo, Albania, Russia and other Slavic countries. Two of the sources said that they helped to bury the corpses of the dead around the yellow house and in a neighboring cemetery. According to the sources, the organ smuggling was carried out with the knowledge and active involvement of middle and high ranking involvement from the KLA (ed. Kosovo Liberation Army).
A few months after [October 2002] the investigators of the tribunal and UNMIK reached central Albania and the yellow house which the journalists sources had revealed as the place where the prisoners were killed to transplant their organs. The journalists and the Albanian prosecutor accompanied the investigators to the site.
The house was now white. The owner denied it had ever been repainted even though investigators found traces of yellow along the base of its walls. Inside the investigators found pieces of gauze, a used syringe and two plastic IV bags encrusted with mud and empty bottles of medicine, some of which was of a muscle relaxant often used in surgical operations. The application of a chemical substance revealed to the scientific team traces of blood on the walls and on the floor of a room inside the house, except for in a clean area of the floor sized 180x60cm.
The investigators were not able to determine whether the traces they found were of human blood. The sources did not indicate the position of the grave of the presumed victims and so we did not find the bodies.”
Serbian journalists investigated the matter, and apparently refused to share their data with anybody else. According to some, they wished to “fabricate” a big scandal, but failed.
In order to verify what was going on, KP journalists went to Kosovo, to see what a “humanitarian catastrophe” was, and many of the Kosovo villages back then fell into that category.
“KP traveled to the Kosovsku-Mitrovitsu enclave in north Kosovo to learn more about the enclave phenomenon. Our journalists sat in a dilapidated cafe waiting for the Kosovo Serbian rally to begin. The cafe’s windows were covered in bullet holes. The rally was to commence at 12:44. The number has a special subtext. It’s the number of a UN resolution on Kosovo declaring the territory an indelible part of Serbia.”
Mitrovista isn’t an enclave. It practically borders Serbia, but a bridge divides the city into Albanian and Serbian sections.
“Unofficial guards protected the Serbian side. This small detail shows who is the aggressor in the situation and who is on the defense.
Forty last names of deceased Serbs are written on an obelisk on the Serbian side. The Albanians have tried to annex their section of the city on numerous occasions. The bridge served as a stage for bloody wars. It’s quiet on the Serbian side. Muscular men sit in a pink 24-hour cafe. They’re officially called the bridge’s guardians, as their job is to stop Albanians attacking from across the bridge. They greeted us cautiously. The waiter approached us slowly and indifferently.”
The KP journalists spoke to the leader of the local branch of National Serbs Union, Neboysha Iuvovich, who spoke of why Del Ponte didn’t actually investigate the organ trafficking.
“Many politicians are straying from their positions and writing about the truth,” Neboysha said.
“Carla Del Ponte didn’t want to write about what really happened before because she would have had to launch investigations into crimes connected with organ trafficking.
It would have been career suicide for an EU politician in Kosovo. We have enough facts to prove genocide.
We have information confirming 1,200 Serbs were kidnapped and 1,700 killed. No one can say for sure.
Serbs were kidnapped all over Kosovo.
People disappeared — and not farmers but doctors. Several were kidnapped. One was the famous surgeon Andrea Tomanovish.
His body was never found. Try going south to the Albanian border. Don’t think about talking about this with the Albanian administration, though. You’ll disappear. And only speak English with the Albanians.”
Almost unprepared they went into Kosovo.
“Two-hundred meters, barbed wire fences, a KFOR outpost… Then everything changed. All the sudden we saw clean, swept streets, bright signs, shop Turkish- and Roma-style windows. And U.S. flags. The new Albanian Kosovo is still celebrating victory.”
Kosovo appeared to be an example of a successful rescue of a failing state by Western powers, if one was to completely disregard the “enclaves” which in this case is a euphemism for a “Serbian ghetto” and the conditions in which people were living. But humanitarian missionaries didn’t visit those places, they simply visited where UN peacekeepers were present.
And that wasn’t due to lack of funds:
“Kosovo is crammed with cash. EU and U.S. humanitarian organizations are making significant contributions to the economy. Albanians are also sending huge annual remittances from Western Europe.
Part of this money is earned from criminal activities. But Kosovo can’t yet cope with these substantial money streams.
The funds are poorly managed and large sums are invested in outlandish construction projects, such as 100-meter swimming pools in entirely uninhabited areas. Thousands of consumer goods stores stand by the road. The average Kosovo village has 5-10 supermarkets for every 500 residents, as well as three car washes and mechanic’s shops.
The country’s elegant agrarian landscape now has tens of thousands of newly built elite homes. Scattered among them are the skeletons of Serbian homes in ruins, covered in weeds.
Albanians are dismantling these homes and using the materials to build more multilevel mega markets. One theory why these stores are built is that they are used for money laundering.
They have few customers and the assortment is always e — nuts and mineral water. It’s interesting to think how long these stores would have to run before covering their costs. The average land plot for these mega markets sells for 100,000 euro.”
Democracy, the imported kind, is a profitable business, it appears. This is apparent, even for observers who have been there for mere days.
“The EU can’t explain why the Albanian mafia was given a republic to rule after massacring the Serbian population. But the Albanians know how to play the democratic game. Each mega market boasts a collection of small EU and U.S. flags, although the well-being of Kosovo residents is divided purely along ethnic lines — a mockery of the democratic values that the country pretends to uphold.”
In another village, Istok, where the journalists’ driver initially didn’t even want to go, afraid and angry at the Albanians. They found a woman – Milavitsa.
She said that she had left Istok, initially, but returned when she heard that Moscow would allegedly help them and protect them.
“I came back when I learned that Moscow had decided to help us. But the Russians outsourced the work to a German company that hired Albanians to fulfill the contract. In effect, the Albanians made money off the Russians, by building our homes and not providing us with electricity or water. This was done on purpose. But I’m still happy the house was built. Before I was living in a shed with a cow.”
Milavitsa’s family had lived in Istok for nearly a century. In the summer of 1999, Albanians blew up a home, fish restaurant, wine cellar and four-car garage in the village. They also stole a tractor and land. Her family home was burned. She named the dead, counting them on her fingers.
“Did you know that Serbs were kidnapped and their organs trafficked?” the journalists finally asked.
“Yes, we all knew! We knew that only young, strong men went missing. On June 10, the Albanians rounded up about 50 people here in Istok and took them away. No one ever saw them again. We appealed to both the Serbian and EU authorities for help. But they said that we didn’t have any evidence. As if you can just go to a clinic where organs are being trafficked, take photos and leave!”
Many of the Serbians are farmers, although portions of the land border with Albanian villages and locals don’t let Serbs work the fields.
“They shoot farmers,” said Mile Popovich, a member of the local administration. “Almost everything in our enclave is completely natural. The economy is ruined and the Albanians don’t buy anything from the Serbs.”
Serbia itself only helps in the capacity that it allows the educated people to leave, while the others are left behind.
“It’s hard to call it ‘help,'” Popovich said. “Their policy is to move all the educated people to Serbia and help them find work. Belgrade helped all qualified workers leave. Only we farmers and workers remain. But that’s okay. We’ll win Kosovo back the same way we lost it. And our friends will be stronger by then. I don’t think we should drag Russia into a war right now. In the meanwhile our kids are growing up.”
The Serbians in the villages were also armed, and the Albanians were reportedly wishing to take control of their villages.
“They’re too afraid. We can call 5,000 men to arms in a moment,” Popovich said. “The KFOR soldiers already tried to disarm us. The Poles came first. They walked through the enclave, spoke with locals and later told their commanding officers they wouldn’t do it. Then the Americans came with their search dogs on helicopters. They went to each home looking for arms, but we sent our shepherd dogs after them. Then the Americans climbed back into their helicopters and took off. For some reason, they haven’t rushed to disarm the Albanians… But the KLA has shot at our buses. People have died in the thousands. A lot of people have disappeared without a trace. We used to worry during kidnappings in 1999. My neighbor was kidnapped and they never found his body. The kidnapping started as soon as NATO forces came to Kosovo.”
Then, the firsthand story comes of a woman’s son, who simply vanished in 1999, and she was told that he was alive, but she had never seen him, for 9 years in 2008.
“He was coming home and had to pick up some shepherds along the way,” she said. There was an old Soviet TV in the corner of the room.
“Someone stopped Yakov. They found his car by the road with the doors half open. I went to the KFOR for help, but they said calmly: ‘Your son was kidnapped by an independent criminal group.’ The authorities didn’t look for him at all. But then word came that Yakov was still alive. We asked a foreign journalist who was preparing to meet Albanian criminals to help us find him. They again told her that Yakov was alive. About one month later, some people contacted me and asked me to give them clothes and money for food for my son. Albanians have contacted me several times saying that he was alive, but they couldn’t release him. Why did they want him to begin with?”
“Have you continued searching for your son?” we asked.
“Yes. We were continuously told he was alive. We met with Major Taylor who commanded KFOR in our region. He told us they couldn’t find and free our son. But he added we should try to buy him back through our Albanian acquaintances. A good Albanian friend of Yakov’s said that if he tried to intervene, he and his whole family would be killed. Other Albanians refused to help us, although we’ve managed to set aside a good amount of money to buy him back.”
Many of the kidnapped people were found in mass graves, but those were the old ones. The younger ones were apparently kept in special camps, when an international commission is nearing the camp, they’re moved, and they live until an order is given for a “specific organ” and the kidnapped victim is taken to an underground clinic outside of Kosovo.
Finally, it turns out that no Serb was actually left alive who could testify, the KP journalists were told that by MP in Serbia’s parliament and General Bozhidar Delich.
“We received information about the concentration camps holding Serbian prisoners,” Delich told KP. “We passed these materials along to international organizations. But the terrorists had their own links in the KFOR and UN missions. Whenever the commission intended on checking a specific location, the prisoners were quickly transported to another camp. Back then, we had high hopes we would see the prisoners alive. In 1999, Serbia released 2,000 Albanian prisoners to Kosovo, hoping to receive kidnapped Serbs in return. But the Albanians didn’t send one! Of course not! They would describe the horrors they were subjected to, including organ extraction. The KLA had about 10 concentration camps for organ donors in south Kosovo. The largest were Budak, Yablonits, Ponoshevets, Zrsts and Nashestk. There was a huge camp in Prizren near a bank building, but it’s very dangerous traveling there.”
They visited all 10 locations, asked questions, saw no war, but new buildings instead. And they spoke to children, who said that America is good, the UK is good, Europe is good. Serbia was bad, and Russia was the worst of them all.
Some adults joined in the political debate. But when asked about the concentration camps, they answered:
“The Serbs were never here. There was never a war here. We always lived here.”
And this was heard in every single town, as if the Serbs had never lived there, at all.
The journalists then spoke to the leader of a group who were attempting to track what happened to the abducted individuals.
Simo Spasich tried to get The Hague to investigate the organ trafficking.
“The Albanians didn’t kill everyone at once,” Spasich said. “We found bodies in mass graves and the mountains. But the fate of many other Serbs was unclear until several facts later came to light. I first spoke with Ponte about this in 2001 in Belgrade. We gave her a list of 1,300 kidnapped individuals and the letters that were dropped over Kosovo by NATO planes signed by Tachi. They called all the Albanians to leave the country before the bombings began. The Albanians left in masses guarded by KLA soldiers. Our kidnapped Serbs were seen among them. The Albanian’s used this maneuver to get the kidnapped Serbs out of the country under false pretenses as refugees.”
When asked why that happened, he said that organs needed to be harvested.
“Did you know that the Serbs were kidnapped for their organs?” the journalists asked.
“I assumed so,” Spasich said. “We received information in this regard. I learned from military personnel that this happens in western Macedonia, too. When Ponte told us the Serbs on our list had been killed, she knew that their organs had been stolen. We’re preparing a lawsuit against her for masking these crimes. We could have punished the guilty four years ago. But Kosovo’s independence was dearer to The Hague than some Serbs. They were willing to close their eyes to the horrors committed by the Albanians. It’s a big political game. If everyone knew about the brutalities committed against the Serbs, no one would have recognized Kosovo’s independence.”
And finally, back then Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s representative to NATO simply said that the explanation is that’s how politics worked, especially in the west:
“The international community always knew about the organ trafficking as described in Ponte’s book. These are things that everyone knows who’s ever been involved with Kosovo’s problems. There is serious evidence discrediting Tachi, the KLA’s head, who’s still respected in the West. Everyone knew that the KLA is a terrorist organization financed by drug trafficking. For the West, acknowledging these facts meant breaking their plans for dividing Serbia, changing the power scheme in the Balkans and weakening Russian influence. My partners in Brussels call it ‘real-deal politics.'”
So yes, legitimate witnesses appear to be gone, there are some, but not many, and nobody is looking for them. Imported democracy is a legitimate business, and organ trafficking appears to also be quite profitable. With the collective West looking to the side, of course it would pass without a hitch.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci Taken Into Custody In The Hague
- Kosovo And Serbia Sign Normalization Deal In U.S., Recognize Israel And More