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Albania Refuses to Investigate Claim that Serb Prisoners Were Killed for Organs During Kosovo War

Serbian officials denounced Albania on Wednesday for refusing to investigate claims that Kosovo Albanians killed Serb prisoners for their organs during the 1998-99 Kosovo war.

Albania's top prosecutor said Monday she would not help a visiting Serbian war crimes prosecutor who is investigating claims of organ-trafficking that surfaced in a book earlier this year by the former chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte.

In "The Hunt: War Criminals and Me," Del Ponte wrote that, according to her sources, about 300 people were kidnapped during the Kosovo war and transported across the border to Albania where they disappeared. There are reports that some ended as victims of an organ harvesting operation, Del Ponte wrote.

Albanian authorities refused to offer an explanation for their decision.

Albanian Prosecutor-General Ina Rama said the country would only assist prosecutors from the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague on the case -- if they want to reopen it. Rama said the tribunal had investigated in 2005 and concluded the organ trafficking claims were not true.

A spokesman for Serbia's war crimes prosecutor, Bruno Vekaric, called the Albanian decision politically motivated and said Serbia will hand over its evidence of organ trafficking to the Council of Europe, the European Union's top human rights body.

"The Albanian prosecutors made a hasty decision not to take our evidence into consideration, obviously under intense political pressure," Vekaric told The Associated Press.

In Tirana, the Albanian prosecutor's spokeswoman, Holta Zhiti, rejected the criticism, saying the Albanian response "has not been hasty at all" but in line with Albanian law.

Thousands of people were killed as Serb security troops cracked down on Kosovo Albanian separatists in the war. The conflict ended after NATO bombed Serbia in 1999.

Albania supported the ethnic Albanian rebellion in Kosovo.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February, a situation Serbia still has not accepted.