CoE organ trade rapporteur cannot testify in PrištinaSource: Tanjug, Vesti
FRANKFURT -- The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) unanimously declined to discuss the abolition of the immunity of Dick Marty.
This former Swiss senator is the CoE rapporteur and the author of a report on organ trafficking in Kosovo.
The decision of the PACE committee means he will not be able to testify in a separate illegal organ trade case, that also took place in Kosovo.
Marty's testimony in the case dealing with allegations about illegal trade in organs in 2008 at the Medicus clinic in Priština was requested by EULEX prosecutor Jonathan Ratel, according to Vesti, a Frankfurt-based, Serbian language daily.
The committee, made up of representatives from 47 member states of the Council of Europe, invoked Article 14 of the PACE General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe, which stipulates the parliamentary immunity as absolute, permanent and unrestricted and that the Parliamentary Assembly cannot abolish it.
The Marty report, published in late 2010, focuses on war crimes committed in Kosovo and northern Albania in 1999 and 2000, when, according to allegations, members of the ethnic Albanian KLA kidnapped Serb and other civilians, illegally detained them, to finally sell their body parts in the international black market.
The Medicus case concerns peace-time illegal trade in organs that allegedly took place in Kosovo in the decade that followed, where donors were lured in from abroad with promises of monetary compensation.
However, in his report, Marty makes the connection and states that the organ trade "which developed at the initiative of certain KLA militia leaders linked to organized crime" had continued in other forms, "as demonstrated by an investigation being carried out by the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) relating to the Medicus clinic in Priština".
He also charged that the criminal activity continued for another decade despite the presence of international troops in the province.
"The principle of assembly member immunity, like the immunity of Red Cross officials, makes it impossible for the parliament to endanger witnesses during parliamentary investigations, and it preserves the trust witnesses have in rapporteurs," an anonymous Council of Europe (CoE) legal expert told the newspaper.
The daily's sources further stressed that this was the reason why Marty on several occasions underlined that he could not reveal the identity of the witnesses until sufficient guarantees were provided for their safety and complete protection.
"For the moment, they are mostly committing suicides," a source said of the witnesses, adding that "after everything that's happened, Kosovo doesn't even have a law on witness protection".
The CoE told the newspaper's reporter that they were surprised by Prosecutor Ratel's decision to call Marty as a witness without previously studying the rules of the Council related to immunity of its members.
"In this way, an opportunity has been given to the authorities in Priština and Tirana to announces that they dis wish to see the truth and an investigation, but that 'Marty won't testify'," said the sources.
Relations have been strained between the CoE and the EU mission in Kosovo, EULEX, ever since the publishing of the Marty report.