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Serbia pushes for UN inquiry into alleged organ harvesting in Kosovo

Serbia is pushing for the United Nations Security Council to investigate allegations that the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) harvested the organs of Serb prisoners during the 1999 war that led to Kosovo's separation from Serbia.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said an international inquiry would be "an integral part of the reconciliation process" between Kosovo and Serbia and "is itself a prerequisite for establishing peace between Serbs and Albanians in the Balkans."

"We will not rest or retreat until the full truth about what happened is uncovered," Jeremic said.

Jeremic's call for a UN investigation has split the Security Council between European Union members and China and Russia.

Britain, France and Germany want the investigation to be conducted by the EU's rule of law mission in Kosovo, EULEX.

While Russia, a close ally of Serbia, has argued that a UN investigation would avoid bias.

"We are convinced that carrying out a detailed, independent and depoliticized investigation will be in the interests of establishing truth and reconciliation," Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.

The Council of Europe, a body that monitors human rights in its 47 member states, issued a report last year authored by its right rapporteur, Dick Marty, that outlined abductions, disappearances, executions and the harvesting of Serbian prisoners' organs.

The report linked Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, once a leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, to the alleged organ trafficking. Thaci has denied the allegations, calling them an attempt to undermine Kosovo's statehood.

Lingering tension

The NATO military alliance carried out airstrikes in Kosovo in 1999 to stop alleged war crimes committed by Serbian forces against separatist Kosovar Albanians. Britain, France, Germany and the US participated in the strikes. Russia strongly opposed the intervention.

Kosovo subsequently made a unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 after being administered by the United Nations for years. In July 2010, the International Court of Justice ruled that Kosovo's statehood declaration did not violate international law.

However, the Security Council's permanent members remain divided on Kosovo's legal status. Britain, France and the US recognize it as an independent state, while China and Russia do not.

Seventy-five countries have recognized Kosovo as an independent state.

[Source: By Spencer Kimball, AFP and AP, Deutsche Welle, 13May11]

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The Question of Kosovo
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