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Serbia Seeks Info From Albania On Organ Trafficking

BELGRADE (Reuters) -- Serbia will seek more information from Albanian authorities about alleged trafficking of human organs taken from Kosovar Serbs during the 1999 conflict, an official has said.

Last October, a top Albanian prosecutor rejected Serbia's request for an investigation into the claims made by former UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who said in a book that her team had investigated reports that around 300 Serbs held in Albania had had organs removed, apparently for trafficking.

Albanian prosecutors said both local authorities and an investigator of the UN war crimes tribunal had already investigated the issue but found no evidence.

"New evidence shows that alleged crimes took place in northern Albania and we will send an official inquiry to prosecutors in Tirana seeking additional information about our findings," Bruno Vekaric, a spokesman for Serbia's war crimes prosecutor's office, told Reuters.

Vekaric said Serbian war crimes prosecutors will present new evidence to the Council of Europe, Europe's main human rights watchdog, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the UN Security Council.

A set of photos, apparently obtained from an international official serving in Kosovo, showed members of the now-defunct Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) that fought Serbian troops during the 1998-99 conflict, in locations in Albania's north, he said.

Vekaric said the Serbian authorities believe the photos corroborate their view that organs were taken from Serbs in northern Albania.

"This only added to what we already know that the [UCK] troops had training camps, logistics bases, and makeshift clinics on the Albanian soil," Vekaric said.

In 2004, UN investigators searched a house belonging to a family in Albania's north, probing involvement of UCK fighters in trafficking of organs taken from Kosovar Serbs seized during NATO's 1999 bombing launched to end ethnic killings.

They uncovered blood stains, gauze, and syringes, but villagers, aided by an Albanian prosecutor, stopped them from searching further, Del Ponte's book said.