Vermont Bar Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2 Vermont Bar Journal, Spring 2017, Volume 43, No. 1 - Page 29

ernment officials were acquitted. Our decision was of considerable inter- national interest, including the NY Times, the BBC, Reuters, and others. It was the first decision that found doctors guilty of organ trafficking rather than just the facili- tators. There was also a wider context to this case. There was widespread speculation that the KLA was guilty of harvesting hu- man organs from Serbian prisoners during and immediately after the war in the late 1990s, and that there might be a connec- tion between these activities and the Me- dicus case. This was the subject of a New Yorker article in the edition of May 6, 2013 titled “Bring up the Bodies.” Also, the Me- dicus case was featured in an HBO doc- umentary called “Tales from the Organ Trade” which was broadcast in fall 2013. But unfortunately the Medicus case did not conclude with our trial verdict. Al- though the convictions of the main par- ticipants were upheld on direct appeals in panels consisting of two international judg- es and one local judge, there is a proce- dure in Kosovo law that allows a further ap- peal, called protection of legality, roughly similar to post conviction relief. This ap- peal was heard by a panel consisting two local judges and one EULEX judge, some- thing that was not supposed to happen in sensitive EULEX cases. (I have been unable to determine why this happened.) The two local judges reversed the convictions of all defendants and ordered a retrial on the ba- sis that the Polish trial judge should have been disqualified at the outset. The EULEX judge issued a strong dissent. This was a hyper-technical procedural ruling that had nothing to do with actual bias or even the appearance of bias. The upshot is that years of work by the prose- cution and the courts, not to mention over- whelming evidence of guilt, have been summarily swept away. I hope that this rul- ing is not symptomatic of what the future holds after EULEX transfers authority to the local judiciary, but I have serious concerns, especially after EULEX has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to institutionalize the rule of law. Final Thoughts perform transplant surgery at the Medicus Clinic, and he was the lead surgeon. Both Moshe Harel and Yusef Sonmez were also indicted in Kosovo, but they could not be extradited for trial and their present where- abouts are unknown to me. We were in contact with many foreign governments through diplomatic channels, including Turkey, Israel, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Belarus, Russia, Moldova, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Canada, Israel, Serbia and the US. We heard testimony from wit- nesses from many of these countries, either in person or by video link. The donors were all exploited, which was an essential element of the crime of traf- ficking. They were taken advantage of be- cause of their financial vulnerability; they didn’t speak Albanian, English or Turkish; they were all alone in a foreign country far from home; they were never informed about the risks of kidney surgery; they nev- er provided informed consent; and they had no one to protect their best interests. Also, after surgery, the kidney donors were returned to their home countries, often with less money than they had been prom- ised, and in several cases, no money at all, and some suffered recurring health prob- lems. The evidence at trial showed that at least 24 kidney transplants were conducted at the clinic during an eight month period in 2008. The defendants argued that they were just doing their job as doctors, and didn’t know anything about exploitation or an in- ternational conspiracy, feigning ignorance and shifting the blame to the Turkish sur- geon. We concluded that they obviously knew what was going on, and we found the two lead defendants, Lutfi Dervishi and his son Arban, guilty of organ traffick- ing and organized crime, and we imposed lengthy jail sentences. The three other doc- tors were found guilty of related offenses and punished accordingly. The two gov- I had the responsibility to work with my international colleagues to enhance the rule of law in this transitional country which is still recovering from war, still grappling with corruption, and still trying to reconcile its culture and traditions with modern Eu- ropean and international norms. If noth- ing else, by modeling solid judicial practic- es, free from political interferen ce and cor- ruption, and by mentoring our local coun- terparts, we provided the framework for a modern judiciary. Whether this framework will be solidi- fied within the local judiciary remains to be seen. But as the international community continues its retreat, the burden will soon fall exclusively on local institutions and leadership. Despite numerous obstacles, it is my hope that this small, strife-torn coun- try can continue to foster the rule of law and continue to develop into a legitimate western-style democracy. ____________________ Before his appointment to the Vermont trial bench, Judge Pineles served as an As- sistant Attorney General, Deputy Health Commissioner, Commissioner of Labor and Industry, and Legal Counsel to Gover- nor Richard Snelling. He is a graduate of Brown University, Boston University School of Law and Harvard Kennedy School. He divides his time between Stowe, Vermont and Washington, DC. He can be reached at pineles@pshift.com. Renewing your Vermont attorney license this June? Please consider “opting in” to donate to the Vermont Bar Foundation with your license fee renewal. It’s easy! The Vermont Bar Foundation is your legal charity, funding essential legal services for low income Vermonters. Even a small addition to your license fee can collectively make a big difference. To learn more about how your donation can serve the needs of Vermonters, go to www.vtbarfoundation. org/success-stories/ www.vtbar.org THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL • SPRING 2017 29