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Kosovo organ trafficking circle to face EU prosecution

Group includes doctors and a high-ranking health official

EU prosecutors have accused seven people, including doctors and a health official, for running an international organ trafficking network in the Serbian breakaway state of Kosovo.

The group has been charged on several counts, including organ trafficking, organised crime, unlawful exercise of medical activities, and abuse of authority. One of the accused, Ilir Rrecaj, is described as a "person that previously worked at a senior level in the Ministry of Health", the BBC reported today, while two others, Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez and Moshe Harel, an Israeli citizen, are listed as wanted by Interpol.

Kosovo surgeon, Lutfi Dervishi is reported to be the ringleader of the criminal group. Two more doctors, Turkish national Kenan Demirkol and Zaki Shapira are identified as "unindicted co-conspirators".

The alleged trafficking took place in 2008, and the EU prosecutor, reported by Associated Press (AP), said that an "organized criminal group" trafficked persons in Kosovo for the purposes of removing their organs to sell. An estimated twenty foreign nationals were recruited to the programme under false pretences payment.

The victims were sourced from situations of extreme poverty across a number for former Soviet-bloc states, including Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey. According to the indictment obtained by AP, the organs were purportedly sold for up to 100,000 Euros.

The EU prosecutors involved have requested to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the case. A preliminary hearing is expected to happen by the end of the month. The indictment is indicative of the extent of organized crime in the breakaway state since it declared independence in 2008.