The story from the house that according to Carla Del Ponte served as a clinic for surgical operations. The testimony of Abdulla Katuci who wants to confront her to find out which of the two "minds". Because Albanian doctors claim that transplanting organs or organ transplants for transplantation in Albania is like saying that "from Tirana cosmic rockets are launched into space".
The Albanian prosecutors' version on what is described in the two pages of the Del Ponte book on Albania.
In the house of Abdulla Katuçi at the locality of Rripë of Gurra e Madhe, at 116 kilometers from Tirana, the bellow of a cow welcomes us. The heat is gripping us and at home we find only an elderly lady who, after having understood us with difficulty, invites us to wait until her family arrives. And it is from this fortified house, or kulla as it is called in Albanian, that Carla del Ponte speaks in his "The Hunt, I and the war criminals", calling it "the yellow house where in the 1999, from the 100 to the 300 military and Serbian civilians organs have been removed for transplant purposes ”.
While we wait for the breadwinner Abdulla Katuçi, we take the opportunity to look around. It is a two-storey house with old wooden stairs and darkened by humidity, with narrow and high slits instead of windows. Mersin Katuçi, son of Abdullah, arrives limping because, as he himself says, he suffers from rheumatism and has just returned from the spa. Mersin goes straight to the point. "What happened to us has never happened to others and if the state does not investigate the matter, I will deal with it personally," says the 48-year-old and begins to reveal how his home ended up in the pages of one of the most discussed books in the world.
"I have not hurt anyone, I have no feud with anyone, in this house Serbs never entered and there have never been any Kosovar military," says Mersin, explaining that he wrote to the Attorney General of the Republic and to the Prime Minister for request to shed light on the history in which he was involved. The two state positions never answered him. "The investigators in The Hague have been in this house and have not found any information or clue to open an investigation into this case," continues his story Mersin. At the beginning of the 2004, Burrel's Attorney, Arben Dyla, had accompanied the group of investigators arrived from The Hague to inspect the Katuçi home. In his book, Del Ponte writes that near the house were found bottles for medicines, syringes and other material that could be used in surgical operations, but that were not enough to start an investigation.
The HRW, the color of the house and the honor of Abdullah
Fred Abrahams, senior researcher at the Human Rights Watch organization, says that doubts about organ trafficking are far from being provable, but "deserve to be investigated". For this reason, the HRW officially requested the initiation of investigations into the governments of Kosovo and Albania. Both governments, expressing their views on the request, stressed the lack of sufficient evidence to reopen the investigation and branded Del Ponte's allegations as false. Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, in an interview with the BBC, stated that "a thorough investigation had been carried out but there had been no positive feedback". The same was also stated by the authorities of Prishtina. Fred Abrahams, in an official HRW statement, claims that investigators in The Hague also found the yellow color on the outside of the house, although it was discolored and found only in a narrow range.
In the three corners of the kulla we found traces of the yellow color described in Del Ponte's book, but the house was never painted all in yellow. This is what Dashuria, the twenty-year-old daughter of Mersin, recounts: "In the 2001 (contrary to what was claimed by Del Ponte that the house was yellow in the 1999 - note) we whitewashed the house because we had my brother's wedding, but on the outside we painted only the lower end of the house ". Neither Dashuri, nor his father Mersin and neither his grandfather Abdulla Katuçi, know how to explain why among the many houses painted all in yellow, from the entrance of the area of Gurra and up to the town of Rripa, their own was chosen. "I want to compare myself with this lady to see if I am lying or she is the one doing it. And if the accusations are proven to be hanged, "says Abdulla, a man in his eighties, hunched over his cane, wrapped in his old jacket and intervened for the first time in our conversation. His honor has been tarnished, at least this is the interpretation that Elder Abdulla gives to one of the noisiest issues of the moment in the Balkans. "I didn't hurt anyone ... and I never did those horrible things that are said about me," Abdulla continues as he strikes the ground in the yard of his kulla with a stick.
The details of the story according to the Katuçi
According to the Katuçi, the story began towards the end of the 2003, when two foreigners presented themselves as builders of the "Rruga and Arbrit" road that passes some mountains further on, and asked the Katuçi to rent them the house. "They came here with Mustafa Likursi who works as a driver with a van because their car broke down," says Mersin. But no one had not bothered to ask for their names and to observe their physical features. One of them had introduced himself as a Montenegrin from Scutari. Mustafa, the driver who accompanied them and whom we meet on the street while getting his passengers off, says that the two people had traveled with his car but he doesn't remember if they had any equipment with them.
"They looked around, but were not focused on the road and when we arrived at Abdullah's house, they asked me who the owner was," continues his story Mustafa. The two people had asked him to take them to the Katuçi house. The latter had been asked to rent the house and in return they would have paid them enough to live well elsewhere. "We will use the house to accommodate the workers," the two foreigners had said.
Mersin and Abdullah had not agreed to release their home in exchange for money. "We are farmers, we only know how to work the land, we would not have known how to get by elsewhere", explains the forty-eighty the reason why he did not accept the offer of the two foreigners, offering half of the rooms for rent anyway. The next day, Mustafa had accompanied one of the two foreigners on the other side of the stream, circling it, because in the 2003 the unpaved road of the village did not go beyond the stream, and the bridge that today connects the Katuçi house with that of their neighbors was built a year ago. After accompanying him to the other side, the stranger had headed for Burrel and since that day has not been seen. In the diary of rare events for them there is also the arrival of a machine with dark glass that had moved away after photographing the house several times. The Katuçi connected the two foreigners with the events that occurred subsequently only when a dozen people showed up in February of the 2004, part of the investigative group of The Hague. At that time, the Katuçi learned that it was a story with imprisoned Serbs and organ harvesting. For nine hours in a row, they had been forced to stay out in the freezing cold of February, while foreign investigators scoured every corner of the house, placing it upside down. In the evening of the same day, investigators had tried to detect traces of blood with the use of a solution that makes them phosphorescent in all rooms and in the kitchen where blood stains had been found.
"We explained to them that in this place we cut the meat and the wooden trunk we use for this job, I have it there," says Mersin, adding that his wife gave birth some time ago in this room that was not paved at the time. . The smoke-darkened room of an old wood stove has been plastered and paved in the 2001. It is simply furnished with two wooden sofas and a built-in wardrobe where you can see two or three pans. Abdulla insists on making us visit every corner of the house and takes us from one room to another of the kulla built in 1965, furnished with old wooden furniture, arks and paths worked with eagles and stars of David.
Traces of blood and other indications
Chuck Sudetic, co-author of the book by Carla Del Ponte and former journalist of the New York Times for the Balkans, in an interview for RaiNews, stated that the traces of blood were scattered on the floor in such a way that they left a rectangle-shaped part clean , giving the impression that a surgery table had been placed there before. "Foreign investigators have discovered traces of blood, but they could not ascertain if they were of human or animal blood. Even the wall is covered with homogeneous phosphorescent stains, ”says Burrel Attorney, Arben Dyla, who had been present during the inspection. According to Dyla, considering that the house had been plastered in the 2001, probably, the uniformity of the phosphorescent stains on the wall was due to the preparation of the plaster on the place where the family used to cut the meat and where Mersin's wife had left. But the investigators had not tested the ceiling to detect the presence of blood, which could prove what Dyla hypothesized.
"The investigators had difficulty understanding how a woman could give birth at home, but they didn't know that in this area there are no ambulances and finding a car to go to Burrel with the road that was worse then, it took at least two hours and a pregnant woman could give birth on the street, "says the prosecutor.
He recalls that the Hague inspectors had found two or three bottles similar to those of penicillin, but they had brought nothing with them, they had not requested the Katuçi to sign reports and had not analyzed the contents of the bottles. "They also found two plastic tablecloths that were on the market once and said they were used to isolate themselves from microbes," says Dashuria. Neither she nor her father remember having signed records on the materials that had been found at their home and in the surrounding land, owned by Katuçi. In his book, Del Ponte does not forget to include these details as well. But she does not clarify whether there was ever an expert opinion that had proved that the contents of the bottles were used for surgical operations, only raises the doubt that the bottles "were similar to those used in interventions for anesthesia of the muscles"
The reactions of the Albanian prosecutors and doctors In the two pages of the book dedicated to Albania, Del Ponte also describes the collaboration with the Albanian state, using the term collaboration in quotation marks. But Agim Neza, former adviser to the Attorney General of the Republic, declares for the Standard newspaper that all the necessary collaboration was offered to Del Ponte and at no time she had expressed her dissatisfaction. "I want to reiterate that I am surprised that a person respected as the former Prosecutor of the Hague Tribunal, she writes imaginary events and does so trampling the dignity of the Albanians ", says Neza. The same words also repeat Dyla, quoted in the book for telling Hague investigators that some of his relatives had been with the KLA and that "if they did, they did well to do it to the Serbs". "If I had been a prosecutor in The Hague and had reported to me similar statements made by another prosecutor, I would have immediately asked his superior to suspend him from his post or at least I would have passed the information on to him," Dyla says and reiterates that he never said those words. "O Carla, mind, or those who told you so, they lie ... I consult with my superiors to understand how to follow this case."
He took an interest in the case even after the investigators in the Hague were dismissed and said he had found no trace of truth in the assumptions raised. The prosecutor said he had interviewed more informants and none of them did not provide information that in the indicted village or in its vicinity there had never been a prison or transplant clinic. "Saying that in Albania organ harvesting was done for transplantation purposes and how to communicate that tomorrow a cosmic ship will be launched from Tirana in space," says Professor Nestor Thereska, head of the Nephrology Unit of the University Hospital Center in Tirana, who for years has been fighting for the opening of a kidney transplant department in Albania. "I don't know that in Albania so far an organ transplant has been done in the hospital," explains Prof. Thereska, while talking about the hygienic conditions that would be needed to succeed in this very delicate surgery.
He says that an organ can be mechanically explanted, but the conditions in which the explant is performed in order to reuse the organ later for transplantation should be modern and the sterility maximized. According to the professor, "just in case they landed in Burrel with a team of UFOs to bring everything they needed", Del Ponte's claims may be true. The co-author of Del Ponte's book thinks otherwise. In an interview with the Swiss daily NZZ, Sudetic says that "in this case there was reliable information for the transfer of Serbs from Kosovo to Albania, to which the organs were removed". Asked why the prosecutor had not carried out any investigation into the matter, he said in the same interview that "there were various reasons why the prosecutor did not investigate the incident. Among other things, the time available to the Court was limited and could not be investigated after the entry of NATO troops into Kosovo, a period in which surgical operations should also have been carried out ". Why and how did this story begin? In his book, Del Ponte raises the doubt that without a complete investigation this story will remain a "urban legend", one of those stories that come out during wars to attack the enemy. The same also states Sudetic, in his interview for the Swiss newspaper NZZ, because in Del Ponte it was forbidden to express himself in public on the book as it covers the role of ambassador of Switzerland in Brazil. Sudetic points out that "charges for organ trafficking are made during wars to discredit the enemy".
But if they were invented, how and who did it?
No one can answer this question. Surely not even the cemetery near the road that crosses the town Rripë, used according to Del Ponte to bury the victims does not reveal anything about the veracity of the assertions. The strange thing is that the Hague prosecutors wanted to open the tombs, but after they were asked to make an official request for exhumation, they withdrew and simply asked two or three peasants whose loved ones rest in these graves. Furthermore, the prosecutors also withdrew from the opening of the wooden floor of one of the rooms on the ground floor of the Katuçi kulla after they were asked to indemnify the damage. "They got caught unnecessarily with Abdullah," a man tells us of the area of Gurra. In these parts, the peasants plow the land with horses, the electricity is missing from early morning to four in the afternoon and there are no traces of the phantom clinic.
As we move away from Abdulla Katuçi's kulla, we can still hear the bellow of the cow from the cement brick stable built next to the kulla, and the elder greets us, saying, "Let them confront me and see if I am lying or it is Carla Del Ponte who does it ".
Note: Vladimir Vukçeviç, Prosecutor of War Crimes in Serbia, declares that he has initiated the investigation and that he will question Carla Del Ponte. According to the Prosecutor, two trucks with Serbs and non-Albanians were taken from Kosovo to Burrel to remove organs from them. 400 is the number of Serbs who disappeared during the war.
From the 100 to the 300 is the number of Serbs and non-Serbs of Russian, Roma and Albanian origin who are alleged to have been brought to the Rripë di Gurra e Madhe locality for organ harvesting (the presence of Russians on the list is strange and not we know how and where these were captured).
Written by Vladimir Karaj, published in the daily Standard of 3 May 2008.
Translated by Albanianews.it by Alban Trungu.