Israeli Involved in Kosovo Organ Trafficking Case on Run From Interpol

Moshe Harel, an Israeli of Turkish descent, is suspected of being at the center of a network of organ traffickers in Kosovo.

PARIS - An Israeli is on the run from Interpol after being suspected of being at the center of network of organ traffickers in Kosovo, according to a series of reports in the British Guardian newspaper this week.

Moshe Harel, an Israeli of Turkish descent, is known as "the fixer" of the alleged organ ring, for his suspected role in matching potential donors recruited in Turkey with recipients, many if not all of whom had connections with Israel.

Kosovo Dec. 16, 2010 (Reuters)
Reuters / Hazir Reka

European Union prosecutors recently brought a case against Harel and six others in the district court of Pristina, Kosovo - but both Harel and another suspect, Turkish doctor Yusuf Ercin Sonmez - left the country and have evaded arrest.

According to the documents brought forward in the case, the donors came from Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey, lured by false promises of $20,000 compensation. Their organs were transplanted into recipients from Israel, Canada, Germany, Poland and elsewhere.

The police uncovered the network in November 2008, when a tired looking Turkish man - 23-year-old Yilmaz Altun - was picked up by police at the airport in Pristina while awaiting a flight home. When questioned by police, he said he had donated a kidney to a recipient of Israel.

Altun told police that he had been in a hospital alongside a 74-year-old Israeli named Bezalel Shafran - who had paid close to $100,000 for the black-market kidney he hoped would prolong his life.

According to an indictment released this week, the surgery was carried out in the Medicus clinic in a suburb near the Kosovar capital.