EU justice officials were to decide in two weeks whether to bring to trial seven people including an Israeli man and a doctor dubbed the "Turkish Frankenstein" suspected of organ-trafficking in Kosovo, a lawyer said Friday.
An international panel of the European rule of law mission (EULEX) has been looking into the case against seven suspects who face charges of "trafficking human organs, organised crime and the unlawful exercise of medical activity," lawyer Bajram Tmava told AFP.
The panel chaired by German judge Klaus Jung "will in 15 days take the final decision on the indictment, whether it will be confirmed, refused or turned back to the prosecution for additional investigation," Tmava said.
"As for now the indictment is still not in force. Only if the indictment is confirmed, the trial could begin," he explained.
The charges revolve around the Medicus Clinic in Pristina, which was shut down in 2008 after a police probe was launched when a young Turkish citizen 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.
Two other suspects are fugitives wanted by Interpol: Moshe Harel, an Israeli said to have matched donors with recipients, and Yusuf Sonmez, labeled by Kosovo media as the "Turkish Frankenstein" who has reportedly been barred from practicing medicine in Turkey.
A number of other doctors are suspects including Lutfi Dervishi, a urologist at the university hospital alleged to have set up the operation. His son, the owner of the clinic in the outskirts of the capital Pristina, has also been charged.
Tmava, who is Dervishi's defence attorney, said his client pleaded not guilty as did all defendants in the Medicus case.
The charges state that 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.
Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 and is recognised by 72 countries, despite Belgrade's strong opposition.
The 3,000-member EULEX was launched in December 2008 to enforce the rule of law in Kosovo and supervise its police, customs and judiciary.
EULEX has the power to step in and take on cases that the local judiciary and police are unable to handle because of their sensitive nature.
At the time of the arrests, EULEX said the Medicus Clinic case "concerns the international trafficking of organs."
The hearings in the case came as a Council of Europe report has alleged that Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaci and other senior commanders of the ethnic Albanian guerrillas were involved in organised crime and organ trafficking during and after the 1998-1999 war with Serbia.
"We found a number of credible, convergent indications that the organ-trafficking component... is closely related to the contemporary case of the Medicus clinic," the report by Council of Europe deputy Dick Marty, a Swiss, said.
Thaci has denied the allegations, calling them a smear campaign against the guerrillas and himself.
The parliamentary assembly of the Strasbourg-based Council is set to discuss the report in late January.