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Cyprus

Extradition process to start against man linked to organ trafficking

An extradition process to send a 67-year-old Israeli citizen to Russia after he was wanted by Interpol for 10 years in connection with an organ trafficking ring is set to begin in Larnaca next month.

On Tuesday, Turkish born Moshe Harel, who has Israeli nationality, appeared before Larnaca district court where he requested he is allowed free on conditions. He has been held in the Nicosia central prisons since December 28 when he was arrested at Larnaca airport after arriving from Israel.

Two international warrants had been issued against him, one from Russia in December last year, and another by the international criminal court as he was wanted by Kosovo. He has been wanted by Interpol for 10 years.

Court will hear his request on January 18 and the extradition process to Russia is set to begin on February 5.

Harel is wanted for his involvement in a human organ trafficking ring operating in Russia and in Kosovo from 2006 to 2010.

Police accuse Harel of seeking out people in need of kidney transplants and of luring donors to Kosovo from Turkey and ex-Soviet Union countries with the promise of up to €12,000 in payment.

Recipients, mainly Israelis, paid between €80,000 and €100,000 for the organs. Some donors never received any money.

Harel was arrested in 2012 in Israel in connection with a parallel investigation, but was not extradited to Kosovo, which has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

The organ scandal came to light in 2008 when a Turkish man was stopped at Pristina airport, visibly in pain having had his kidney removed. The trafficking ring acted out of the Medicus clinic on a residential road on the outskirts of Pristina.

The director of the clinic, urologist Lutfi Dervishi, was sentenced to eight years in jail for organised crime and human trafficking and his son Arban for seven years in 2013, though both men went into hiding and have not served their sentences.

In 2016 a Kosovo court ordered a retrial of doctors and officials convicted of involvement in the case and that trial is still ongoing. They have all denied any wrongdoing.

Police said Dervishi had been recaptured last year and was among those now being retried. His son and another suspect in the case, Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez, are still at large.



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