Polish patient testifies in Kosovo organ trade trial
(PRISTINA) - A Polish man testified on Thursday that he paid 25,000 euros for a kidney transplant at a Kosovo clinic in 2008, in a landmark trial on illegal organ trafficking.
Tadeusz Sadaj, 56, told an EU-run court in Pristina, testifying via a live video link from the prosecutor's office in Warsaw, that he had the transplant surgery in the now shuttered Medicus clinic.
Upon arriving at the clinic "they gave me some papers to sign ... after an hour or so I was in the operating theatre," Sadaj said.
"The operation you received was a kidney transplant?" asked special EU prosecutor Jonathan Ratel.
"Yes," replied the portly businessman, adding: "Before the operation I was a half-dead. Now, I am alive."
He said he paid 25,000 euros ($33,062) for the kidney which he "handed over ... in cash to Dr. Yusuf."
Sadaj explained that he found Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez, one of the main suspects in the case, after surfing the Internet looking for kidney transplants.
He met several times with Sonmez in Turkey before the pair flew to Pristina for the actual transplant and that his operation was carried out by the Turkish surgeon.
Sonmez is currently in Turkey which he is the subject of a separate but related investigation by Turkish authorities into organ trafficking.
Seven suspects led by former Kosovo health secretary Ilir Rrecaj and Lutfi Dervishi, a prominent Pristina urologist, are on trial in Pristina accused of taking part in an illegal organ trafficking ring.
According to the indictment the clinic carried out at least 30 illegal kidney removals and transplants.
It was raided by police in 2008 after a Turkish man collapsed at Pristina airport waiting for a flight back to Istanbul after donating a kidney.
According to the indictment donors were recruited from poor Eastern European and Central Asian countries. They were promised about 15,000 euros ($19,837) for their organs.
The landmark trial is the first with an international scope tackled by the European rule of law mission EULEX in Kosovo, which was set up after the territory declared independence from Serbia in 2008 to help the local judiciary handle sensitive cases.
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