Cyprus Mail
Crime

Cyprus court rejects Russia extradition for Israeli organ trafficker

A Cyprus court has rejected a request by Russian authorities to extradite Israeli national Moshe Harel, 70, who was arrested upon his arrival to the island for vacation due to an outstanding warrant against him.

Harel was convicted of involvement in an international organ trade network, which operated in Kosovo 10 years ago. He was arrested in 2008, released on bail and returned to Israel. Two years later, he was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison in Kosovo.

In 2012 he was arrested in Israel for the same case and indicted three years later. He was convicted as part of a plea deal, did community service and ordered to pay a fine.

Harel, a travel agent, was arrested at Larnaca airport on December 28, 2017.

He is accused of seeking out people needing kidney transplants and luring donors to Kosovo from Turkey and the former Soviet Union.

Cypriot authorities had activated the Russian extradition request, which was issued for offences committed in 2006.

Harel is suspected of running an organ-trafficking ring in Russia and Kosovo from 2006 until 2010.

He had been wanted for nearly a decade for allegedly exploiting victims, often recruited from poor areas in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, by promising $18,000 for an organ.

Recipients, mainly Israeli, would pay up to $122,000 for a transplant.

The trafficking network came to light in 2008 after a Turkish man collapsed at Pristina airport after having a kidney removed.

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