Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Kosovan premier investigated over organ trafficking

A US prosecutor will investigate claims that Kosovo's Prime Minister led a criminal network that sold organs of civilian captives during the 1998-99 Kosovo war.

John Clint Williamson was named lead prosecutor for a task force set up to investigate the allegations raised in a report last year by the Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty.

Mr Marty has alleged that Hashim Thaci and other commanders of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army ran detention centres near Albania's border with Kosovo, where civilian captives, including Serbs, were killed and their organs sold on the black market.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, a move that is backed by 80 countries, including the US and most nations in the EU. Serbia says it will never recognise the new country.

Mr Thaci has denied the allegation and said he is ready to co-operate with any investigation into the claims. Classified UN documents suggest the organisation's mission in Kosovo was aware of the organ-trafficking allegations as early as 2003, when alleged witness statements where made available to UN investigators.

UN authorities then briefly investigated the claims in 2004 but never launched a full inquiry.

The claims were first made public in a book by former UN war crimes prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte who also said hundreds of Serb civilians went missing and are believed to have perished in camps that were run by the Kosovo Liberation Army in neighbouring Albania's remote north. AP