TURKEY FREES KOSOVO ORGAN-TRAFFICKING SUSPECT
- Published:14 Ocak 2011, Cuma
- Updated:19 Ocak 2011, Çarşamba
A Turkish doctor implicated in an organ-trafficking probe in Kosovo has been freed after questioning in Istanbul, but is still likely to face trial, judicial officials said Thursday.
Prosecutors questioned Yusuf Sonmez Wednesday and asked a court to put him in jail, but the request was rejected, a senior official involved in the case told AFP.
"But the investigation is continuing... He is likely to stand trial," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Turkish judicial authorities are in touch with counterparts in Kosovo, but Sonmez's extradition to the Balkan country is unlikely, he explained.
"Extradition is unlikely in such cases... Trying the suspect in Turkey is the primary option," he said.
In his Wednesday's ruling, the judge decided the evidence against Sonmez was inadequate to justify his arrest. Sonmez's lawyer was not immediately available for comment.
Police caught the doctor Tuesday in a raid on a luxury villa in Istanbul.
EU justice officials in Kosovo are expected to decide this month whether to try seven people, including Sonmez and an Israeli man, suspected of organ-trafficking.
They will decide whether to confirm an indictment against the suspects who face charges of "trafficking human organs, organised crime and the unlawful exercise of medical activity," lawyer Bajram Tmava told AFP earlier.
Writing on his web site, Sonmez has denied any wrongdoing.
The charges revolve around a Pristina clinic, shut down in 2008 after a probe was launched when a young Turk collapsed at the airport after having a kidney removed for a transplant to an Israeli citizen.
Among the suspects is a former health secretary who had issued a licence to the clinic although Kosovo law forbids organ transplants.
The charges state the victims were recruited from poor areas across Eastern Europe and Central Asia. They were promised about 15,000 euros (19,440 dollars) for their organs, while recipients would pay up to 100,000 euros for an organ.
Sonmez had been detained several times in Turkey over illegal kidney transplants, but escaped jail in 2005 when a one-year sentence against him was suspended under a law that took effect that year, according to media reports.
He was later jailed to another 10 years, but has appealed the sentence and the Court of Appeal is yet to rule in the case, the judicial official said Thursday.