Kosovo, Albania seek investigation into organ crime report.

* Albania, Kosovo want Western probe on organ crimes report

*Kosovars petition against Council of Europe report

Kosovo and Albania offered full cooperation on Thursday to international authorities to investigate allegations of crimes including organ trafficking blamed on some wartime liberation fighters.

A report last month by Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty, a Swiss senator and ex-prosecutor, accused members of the former Kosovo Liberation Army of abductions in Kosovo and organ harvesting there and in Albania in 1999-2000.

By naming Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, who won a second mandate to govern days before the report was released, as head of a mafia-style cartel, Marty's report provoked a fury of denials, including from Thaci who said he would sue.

"We believe and think the best answer to this completely racist and defamatory report is our request for a direct investigation by EULEX and the International (Criminal) Tribunal at The Hague," Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha said.

Flanking Berisha at a news conference, Kosovo's acting President Jakup Krasniqi added: "We are ready to face international justice. We have asked (the European Union's) EULEX administration to resume the investigation."

Albanians are the dominant ethnic group in Kosovo and Albania and the neighbouring countries share a common language.

In recent days ordinary Kosovars have also rallied behind Thaci by waiting in lines to sign a petition to urge parliamentarians at the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly not to vote in favour of Marty's report.

In six days, the Kosovo war veterans association has collected 120,000 signatures in the impoverished landlocked Balkan country of two million.

"Every Albanian should sign this because it has damaged us a lot, but he has no facts about what he said," said Xhever Kelmendi, 45. "If this is a lie then he should go to prison but if it is true those responsible should face justice."

Muharrem Xhemajli, a representative of Kosovo Liberation Army veterans, said the group was organising protests in Kosovo, Albania and Strasbourg, France, later this month when Marty is due to present his report to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

"These accusations are unimaginable, only sick people could think that such things happen. In reality, it was impossible," Xhemajli said. (Writing by Benet Koleka, editing by Adam Tanner and Philippa Fletcher)

[Source: Fatos Bytyci and Benet Koleka, Reuters, Pristina/Tirana, 13Jan11].

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The Question of Kosovo
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