Medicus Clinic Pristina
An EU-led Kosovo court sentenced five people in connection to an illegal human organ traffiking ring run at the Medicus Clinic in Kosovo’s capital of Pristina (Serbiasos.blogspot)

An EU-led Kosovo court handed down prison sentences against five people guilty of running a human organ-trafficking ring.

The five are accused of carrying out illegal organ harvesting and transplants at the Medicus Clinic in Kosovo's capital of Pristina in 2008.

A panel of two European Union and one Kosovo judges sentenced urologist Lutfi Dervishi to eight years in prison and his son Arban Dervishi to seven years and three months in prison for organised crime and human trafficking.

Another three defendants were handed sentences ranging from one to three years in jail for causing grievous bodily harm.

The accused lured poor donors from Eastern Europe and central Asia promising money in exchange of their organs, a special court set up by Eulex, the European Union's law and order mission in Kosovo heard.

Prosecutors said that donors from from Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey arrived in Pristina under the promise to be paid €15,000 (£12,600) for their organs.

Recipients, most of which were Israelis, paid up to €100,000 for the organs.

At least 30 illegal kidney transplants were carried out at the clinic in 2008.

Special European prosecutor Jonathan Ratel told AFP that after undergoing surgery donors "were discarded as used material" and "literally cast aside at the airport."

"They were alone, did not speak the local language, were uncertain of what they were doing and had no one to protect their interests," Judge Dean Pineles, told the court.

The ring was unveiled in 2008, as police raided the clinic after a Turkish man, who had just had a kidney removed, collapsed at Pristina airport while waiting for his flight back to Istanbul.

Two former government officials, including Kosovo's former health minister, Ilir Rrecaj, who were also charged in connection with the case, have been cleared of involvement. Prosecutors said they would appeal.

The EU prosecutes sensitive cases, such as those involving government officials, since Kosovo's contested 2008 secession from Serbia.