|Defendant Lutfi Dervishi (far right) in court in Pristina. Photo: BIRN.|
Pristina Basic Court on Thursday found Medicus owner Lutfi Dervishi and the clinic’s head anaesthetist Sokol Hajdini guilty of human trafficking and organised crime.
Dervishi was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison and fined 8,000 euros, while Hajdini was jailed for a year.
The Medicus clinic brought kidney donors to Kosovo, illegally removed their organs and sold them to wealthy patients. The operations it carried out in 2008 earned the Pristina-based clinic around 679,000 euros, the court found.
“It has been proved…that Dervishi was a member of an international criminal organisation that functioned as a structured group from January 2, 2008 to November 2008, from his position as the owner and manager of the Medicus clinic, and as a surgeon and surgeon’s assistant,” said presiding judge Franceska Fischer.
Fischer said that it had also been proved that Dervishi recruited patients and participated in several transplant operations knowing that his clinic did not have the required license.
“Knowing that organ transplantation was forbidden, in cooperation with other people and using tools of deception and abusing his sensitive position, he recruited at least seven people, who he sheltered and operated upon at the Medicus clinic with the purpose of using and taking their kidneys and then transplanting them to receiving individuals,” she said.
Dervishi was also banned from working as an urologist for two years.
The judge said that anaesthetist Hajdini had “participated in seven transplant surgeries in the Medicus clinic knowing that removing organs for transplantation was not legal in Kosovo”.
She added that the crimes were committed with “other known and unknown persons from Kosovo, Turkey, Israel and Ukraine”.
Dervishi’s son Arban Dervishi is also accused of the same crimes and is currently wanted for arrest.
The defendants were initially convicted in 2013, and Kosovo’s appeals court confirmed their convictions in March 2016, jailing Lutfi Dervishi and his son for eight years and Hajdini for five.
But a Supreme Court ruling overturned the original verdict on the basis of procedural irregularities and their retrial started in July 2017.
Police initially raided the Medicus clinic in 2008 after a Turkish man whose kidney had been removed was found seriously ill at Pristina airport.
Donors from Turkey, Russia, Moldova and Kazakhstan were allegedly brought to the clinic after being assured that they would receive up to 15,000 euros for their kidneys.
Another suspect in the case, Moshe Harel, an Israeli citizen accused of being involved in organ-trafficking at the Medicus clinic, was arrested in Cyprus in January this year after several years of being listed as wanted by Interpol.
Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez, who is also a suspect in the case, remains at large.
Investigators closed down the Medicus clinic in 2008, and it has since been sold.